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Divorce can involve student loan debt

When a couple marries, they are hopefully focused on their feelings for each other and the lives they want to share together. When they divorce, they tend to be focused on who gets the money and the assets, making property division central in most divorces. Of course, the balance sheets of divorce aren't only affected by assets, but also by debt.

For that reason, many people are now looking at the question of how divorce is affected by student loan debt. A husband or wife may have such debt from attending college before the marriage, or they may have incurred it as a student after the marriage began. Either way, it affects the net worth of one or both individuals in the event of a divorce.

Many people who attend college rack up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The Institute for College Access and Success says that the average student loan debt for someone who took out loans to go to college and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 2012 is $29,400. Naturally, those who use student loans to get Master's and Doctorate degrees often owe even more.

This leaves many divorcing spouses worried that they may be held liable for an ex's student loan debt. Fortunately, this is rarely the case. Typically, if student loan debt was incurred by one person before the marriage, it remains his or hers during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. However, if the loans were taken out during the marriage, courts may view the debt as marital debt and figure it into the division of assets.

Anyone getting a divorce in Illinois should look closely at property division issues. Those include both assets and debts. A team of experienced professionals, including an experienced Illinois divorce attorney and financial planner can provide more information.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Who Is Responsible for the Student Loans After Divorce?" Charlie Wells, Apr. 13, 2014

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