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A look at student loan debt and the divorce process

A divorce in California involves the division of the spouses' marital assets and debts. Although the state views marital assets as community property that should be divided equally upon the dissolution of marriage, family law carves out some special rules for student loan debt.

Student loans taken out by individuals prior to tying the knot could likely remain the responsibility of the borrower after the divorce. As for student loan debt acquired during a marriage, the state typically assigns it to the person who received the loan. This represents an exception to how family law typically divides other marital debts between both people. A spouse who co-signed on a student loan from a private lender for the other spouse, however, will likely remain responsible for the debt regardless of the terms of the divorce.

The changes to someone's income after a divorce could potentially qualify a person to alter the repayment plan. When a person must live on a single income after living in a two-income household, the lender might approve a lower loan payment going forward. The U.S. Department of Education provides information on loan payment adjustments after income loss.

A person considering divorce naturally has an interest in protecting assets and limiting the imposition of paying for an ex-spouse's debt. A consultation with a family law attorney may educate the person about how the law separates marital assets from individual assets. An attorney's services may help someone document individual possession of an asset or exempt it from the property division phase of divorce. Legal support might improve someone's ability to understand complex assets, like business assets, an inheritance or investment holdings. A clear understanding of rights may prepare someone to negotiate effectively and arrive at an equitable divorce settlement.

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