While many people recognize the burden that student loan debt can place on millennials’ financial lives, the burden that it can place on their relationships and marriages may be less well-known. Student debt can have a significant impact on people’s plans for the future, and the numbers can be substantial. The average outstanding loan balance that borrowers have is $34,144, and that number is higher for the class of 2017. These graduates have an average educational debt load of $39,400. These amounts of debt can lead to a great deal of stress and pressure on the borrower as well as his or her relationships.

One survey of student loan borrowers found that significant educational debt can undermine marriages and contribute to divorce. People with student debt may wish to postpone major life decisions like having children or buying a home. In fact, 41 percent of millennials have said that they would choose to buy homes if not for their outstanding debt. In addition, the psychological effects of the debt-associated stress can also undermine the bond between married partners. In the survey, over one-third of borrowers said that student loans, as well as other financial problems, played a role in their divorces. In addition, 13 percent of the divorced participants specifically attributed the end of their marriages to student loan debt.

Even among borrowers with current partners, 43 percent said that they fought about finances at least somewhat frequently. Almost a quarter of respondents said that they did not disclose their student loan debts to their romantic partners.

Financial differences, from disagreements about spending to managing money, can reveal fundamental incompatibilities in a relationship. When it is time to divorce, a family law attorney might be able to help a spouse advocate for his or her rights and achieve a fair settlement as part of the property division process.