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Community property and student loans

Many couples do not consider the impacts of debt on a marriage and divorce situation. It is important to understand that debts accrued during a marriage are treated the same way as property. This means that they are subject to division. In a community property state like Texas, marital debt will in general be split evenly between both spouses by the court regardless of the type of debt or who may have benefited from it.

Student loan debt is especially impacted by this law. It would be common for a spouse to assume that their partner will be responsible for their own school loans because the loan arguably only benefits the person receiving the education. This logic, however, does not change the law. By nature of being married at the time the loan was taken out, both spouses are assuming liability for that loan. The important distinction is that debt acquired before the marriage is not considered marital property, and the borrower will still be responsible for all of it.

In some cases, however, judges will take into account the relative disparity of income between the parties when dividing debt. For example, a judge could award a lower-income spouse some temporary alimony.

There are a few ways to handle this type of a property division issue. One way is to have the parties and their respective family law attorneys negotiate a settlement agreement that is then submitted to the court and made a part of the divorce decree. In other cases, the parties might seek to have these differences resolved through mediation.

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