Handling Student Loan Debt After Divorce


If you or your spouse received a college degree or took vocational classes during the time you were married, this may affect your Pasadena divorce settlement.

California is a community property state, but a degree is not considered community property. A spouse is not entitled to a percentage of the added earning capacity the degree gives the person who earned it. The added earning capacity of the person who received the degree can be considered in making claims for spousal support or child support, however.

Student loans are generally considered separate debts that are the responsibility of the person who took on the debt. But if the loans were being used to support the living expenses of both spouses during the time the schooling occurred, they may be considered community debts that need to be divided during the divorce. If the loans were used for both tuition and living expenses, then a percentage of the debt would be separate debt and a percentage would be community debt.

The length of time the parties were married can come into play when dividing student loan debt. There is an assumption that a substantial community benefit occurs from the debt if contributions were made more than 15 years before the commencement of the divorce proceeding.

If one spouse works full-time while the other attends school, the working spouse who contributed to the cost of educating the spouse attending school is entitled to some reimbursement for his or her contribution to the educational expenses. California Family Code 2641 says the amount reimbursed shall be with interest at the legal rate, accruing from the end of the calendar year in which the contributions were made.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com if you need legal representation during your divorce. Our Pasadena divorce attorneys can help you with questions relating to how California's community property laws affect the distribution of both marital assets and marital debts.