Do I really have to pay my ex’s student loan debt?

The short answer, maybe. Under Massachusetts divorce law, assets and debts are subject to equitable distribution. The division of assets and debts is attempted to be split fairly, although not necessarily equally.

A variety of factors are taken into account by the court when dividing assets and debts- including how long the parties were married, their needs, and the financial contribution made by each party during the marriage.

Generally, assets acquired or owned by one spouse before the marriage, in a short-term marriage, will be considered separate property rather than marital property. This may include inheritances, real estate property, etc., and are not subject to division. The longer the marriage, the more likely these assets may be included in the marital estate and subject to division.

Similarly, debts incurred prior to marriage are generally considered separate property. However, any student loan debt during a marriage may be considered marital debt.

A judge is likely to consider a loan as separate debt if it merely covered tuition and school fees. However, if the loan was used to pay living expenses benefiting both parties, it may be determined to be marital debt. All marital debt is subject to equitable distribution. The judge has the final say in allocating debt according to what Massachusetts law and individual circumstances warrant.

Just like each marriage is different, so is every divorce. When a marriage is dissolved, it requires a close examination of the circumstances of the couple about to separate. Massachusetts couples contemplating divorce should speak to an experienced family law attorney to discuss legal options, asset and debt division, and next steps. If you have questions about divorce and debt liability, call our office and speak with an experienced family law attorney.

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