Student loan debt is a major financial burden for many people in Wisconsin, especially as the cost of college attendance continues to rise. For many people, student loan debt may cause them to put off marriage, buying a home or having children. Others who are married with student loan debt may be concerned about how a divorce will affect their debt burden. The financial impact of divorce can be significant, as marital assets and liabilities are divided between the couple. The long-term effects of a divorce can linger even after the emotional issues have been settled.
In most cases, if people acquired their student loan debt before they married, it will remain separate in the divorce as well. They leave the marriage with the debt they had when they entered it. On the other hand, the situation can be more complicated for people who attend college and accumulate their student loan debt after they marry. Because Wisconsin is a community property state, student loan obligations that are acquired during the marriage are generally considered to be marital debt and are equally divided between the parties. While there may be some potential exceptions for extremely short marriages or clear proof of bad faith, student loans are generally considered to be a joint marital responsibility.
While some may argue that this mechanism of dividing property is unfair, it is standard in state law. People who are considering returning to education after marriage may consider a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that addresses student loan debt.
People who are considering a divorce may be concerned about the financial effects of ending their marriage, especially if significant student loan debt is involved. A family law attorney can provide advice and guidance on reaching a fair settlement on a range of matters, including property division.