People in the United States have student loans. There are some who continue their education after marriage, for promotion or because they want to pursue a new career.
While there are many reasons why married people incur student debt, the question remains: what happens if the couple divorces? Will they share the liability of the student debt?
Student Debt in the Context of Community Liability
Texas Law is very clear with its principle of community property. Any amount of money or assets that are earned/acquired before the marriage is separate property—or belongs to the individual. Any money or assets required after the date of marriage is community property. The couple will divide such assets equally.
Mortgages for the family house and car loans for vehicles acquired after the marriage will be community debt. On the other hand, a student loan is in furtherance of one’s education. Judges would likely deem it as a separate debt, even if the student loan was taken during the marriage.
While it seems easy enough, student loans cover broad items, and this may cause some disputes and complications.
Student Loan Complications
Student loans are any debt taken up to pay for expenses associated with studying. This includes tuition fees and also room and board expenses and even transport expenses.
This broad coverage can be a gray area that leads to contention that the debt should be community property. An example is when the part of the student loan was used to purchase a vehicle. The vehicle must be used during the marriage to be community property. The ex-spouse whose name the loan was taken out, can bring the matter to court. A court order will be issued that divides the responsibilities of the debt—perhaps not equally, but to a certain degree if the judge can see that both sides got benefits from the loan.
It is easy if the couple both used it during the marriage. However, it does not follow that if there is no object, there would be no chance that it will be a community liability.
In cases where the education was a prerequisite for a promotion or to a new profession entirely. Education can lead to the couple gaining more benefits. It may be the reason for an upgrade in their lifestyle. If so, there must be a degree of shared responsibility. If the ex-spouse presents this clearly, it can convince the judge that the education gained was used for their collective benefit.
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