Student Loans and Divorce

May 13, 2022

Student Loans and Divorce

Student loan debt is a significant financial factor in many marriages – and in many divorces. Financial issues are one of the primary reasons cited for divorce, which makes student loans an important variable. To make things even more complex, the manner in which student loan debt is resolved in a divorce depends upon a variety of factors. if you are facing a concern related to student loans and divorce, seek the legal guidance you need from the experienced Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group (720-730-4558 for calls and 720-463-4333 for texts).

Student Loan Debt Statistics

According to the Education Data Initiative, all the following statistics apply to student loan debt in the United States:

  • The total student loan debt is $1.749 trillion.
  • Total student loan debt increases at a rate that is six times faster than our nation’s total economy.
  • The average student loan debt is about $40,904 (when federal and private loan debt is combined)
  • The average student loan debt for a bachelor’s degree is $30,030.

All told, there is a considerable amount of student loan debt in the United States, and if one spouse carries such debt, it can play a significant role in how your divorce is resolved.

The Division of Martial Property in Colorado

Colorado’s Family Code guides the division of marital property in the State of Colorado, which is an equitable distribution state. This means that the assets you acquire together as a married couple – regardless of who makes the purchase or of whose name the purchase is in – are marital assets that must be divided between you fairly (or equitably) in the event of divorce. Those assets that you bring with you into the marriage and keep separate throughout are considered your own property and are not divided upon divorce. The same is true of debt, which means that if one of you incurred student loan debt during your marriage, it will likely be considered a marital debt, and if one of you brought student loan debt into the marriage with you, it is likely to be considered separate debt. As with most other matters related to divorce, however, this distinction can be complicated.

Equitable Distribution States

In equitable distribution states like Colorado, your marital assets – as offset by your marital debt – will not necessarily be divided exactly equally between you upon divorce. Instead, the court has considerable discretion in the matter and will examine a wide range of factors in the decision-making process, including:

  • Each spouse’s separate financial situation
  • Each spouse’s separate contributions to the acquisition of marital property, including contributions such as homemaking and childcare
  • Any increase or decrease in the value of the separate property owned by either spouse

If one of you took on considerable student loan debt over the course of your marriage, the court will factor this into the division of your marital property. An important point to make here is that, if the student loans taken out during the marriage were in one spouse’s name alone – without taking the other spouse’s credit into consideration – the court may deem the debt separate. Working closely with the dedicated divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group in Colorado can help to ensure that your financial rights are well protected throughout the divorce process – including in relation to student loan debt.

Factors Affecting Student Loans and Divorce

There are several primary factors that will help determine how student loans affect your divorce.

What the Student Loan Was Used For

Typically, the bulk of a student loan goes toward paying for tuition and school-related expenses – in pursuit of a college degree. It is not uncommon, however, for a portion of student loan funds to be used for living expenses that the entire family benefits from. This portion of student loan debt is more likely to be considered marital.

Each Spouse’s Earning Potential

The court will consider each spouse’s ability to earn in its decision-making process regarding how student loan debt will be distributed in the division of marital property. For example, if one spouse has considerably less earning power, the court may be less likely to saddle him or her with any portion of the other spouse’s student loan debt.

Whether or Not the Borrower Earned a Degree

Unlike some other states, the State of Colorado does not consider college degrees (that often lead to professional licensure) marital property. This means that, if the borrower earns a college degree during the course of the marriage, it will not directly affect the division of marital property. If the other spouse, however, helped to support the borrower while he or she earned the degree, the court can factor this into the property division.

Whether or Not There Is a Prenuptial Agreement in Place

If you have a valid prenuptial agreement (or postnuptial agreement) in place that directly addresses the matter of student loan debt, this contractual term will be upheld, and your student loan debt will be handled accordingly.

Final Considerations

How student loan debt affects your divorce hinges on a number of factors. The fact remains, however, that – after your divorce – the student loan debt in question will remain in the name of the borrower. If the court divides the student loan debt between you, you will need to address the matter of how you are going to accomplish this division post-divorce.

Consider Visiting With Experienced Colorado Divorce Attorney To Learn More

If you are faced with an issue related to student loans and divorce, it is a complicated matter that likely requires considerable legal attention and savvy. The trusted Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group recognize the serious nature of your concerns and have the legal insight and drive to help. Protecting your financial rights – in pursuit of your brightest post-divorce future – is paramount, and our accomplished legal team is on your side. For more information about what we can do for you, please do not wait to text chat with us at 720-730-4558 or to call us at 720-463-4333 today.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
Our experience, dedication to Colorado families, and our success in each case we represent sets us apart from the competition. We are passionate about family and estate law. Our highly-qualified team will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible results in your case.


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