Divorce and student loans: What you need to know

| Jun 9, 2021 | Property Division

When you got married, everything was “share and share alike” between you and your spouse — except you never dreamed that you could be on the hook for their student loans.

How could this happen? Let’s look at marital property and Texas law.

How dividing up student loans may work in Texas

Texas is among the states that still adhere to “community property” rules when it comes to divorce. Generally speaking, everything you acquire — whether it’s an asset or a debt — during your marriage must be divided equally in a divorce.

The only exceptions to that rule are a spouse’s “separate” property or debts. An asset or debt is considered separate from the marital estate only when:

  • It was acquired as a gift.
  • It was an inheritance.
  • It was part of a personal injury claim.
  • It was acquired prior to marriage.

If your spouse obtained their student loans prior to your marriage, you may be in the clear. If they took out the loans after your marriage began, you may be on the hook for half. Similarly, if your spouse refinanced some loans with a new lender after you got married, that may have converted those loans from their personal debts to marital ones.

Complicating matters even further, you need to consider whether or not you co-signed on any of your spouse’s loans. If so, the lender can (and likely will) hold you liable for the payments if your ex-spouse fails to make them, regardless of what your divorce papers say.

Divorce often brings unexpected problems, especially when it comes to the division of your marital property. Learning more about your legal rights and options can help you negotiate a better end to your marriage.