One of the most common types of debt we deal with in Utah divorces is student loans.

This isn’t surprising because when people have student loans, they generally have them for a long time. Like Sallie Mae move in to the spare bedroom long time.

So, what happens to student loans in divorce? How are they divided?

Here’s how it works out almost 100% of the time: people keep their own student loans and pay them.

There aren’t very many absolutes in divorce law, but a person keeping their student loans is just about as close as it comes.

This rule applies even if you took out loans and used the money to pay for school and for the family’s living expenses while going to school. A judge will look at that as part of the education process.

This rule applies when you don’t have enough money to pay your student loans. You may receive alimony to help you pay, but the court will not remove your obligation to pay, or make your spouse pay, just because you can’t make the monthly payments.

This rule applies when your spouse has been enjoying the income that came from the education you received, which you paid for with student loans. (Note: the reason for this is you will have your income for the rest of your life, and your spouse won’t. So, because you get to keep the lion’s share of your income throughout your life, you get to pay the loans that enabled you to make that income.)

I have heard every possible reason why the other spouse should have to pay someone’s student loans. None of these reasons has ever, as far as I know, persuaded a Utah judge at trial to make a spouse pay another’s spouse’s student loans.

Last thing: student loans, like any other debt, go in to an alimony calculation, so the other spouse may have to pay indirectly, but alimony is almost never sufficient to cover all debts, much less significant student loans.

Moral of the Story

If you’re getting divorced, be ready to pay your student loans.

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