I lately got here throughout an article, Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner, by Erin Lowry, that obtained me eager about a query that’s certain to come up increasingly on this follow. Millennials, as a technology, are beset by student loan debt on the highest ranges in historical past. As they begin marrying and, as a corollary, divorcing, a typical query they’ll ask is: what accountability do I’ve in the case of my husband’s / spouse’s student loan debt?
As with many points, the reply shall be reality particular. It is well-settled regulation in New Jersey that any pre-marital belongings or money owed, and any passive progress of both the asset or the debt, are the separate property of the partner who acquired the asset or the debt. For instance, Doug Debtor might have acquired $50,000 in student loan debt when he was in school, years earlier than he met his spouse. In precept, if that debt nonetheless exists when Doug and his spouse get divorced, he’s going to be answerable for the whole lot of it, together with any curiosity on the debt that accrued whereas Doug and his spouse had been married. Of course, the details of any particular person case might very properly blur that vivid line rule. For instance, possibly the events lived collectively (although weren’t but married) when the debt was incurred, and it was used to pay for residing bills. In that case, an argument might be made that the non-debtor celebration ought to share within the debt – in any case, s(he) benefited from the loan.
However, each events will share in accountability for debt incurred through the marriage – together with student loan debt incurred by one of many events for his or her training. The thought right here is that the events as a united entrance made the choice to tackle that debt and, hopefully, reap no matter advantages include the partner’s training; due to this fact, they’re each answerable for the debt.
The set of details raised in Lowry’s article current some fascinating questions. While the debt is pre-marital and was incurred apparently earlier than the couple ever knew one another, the “deal” they make is that after they’re married, they’ll stay off of Lowry’s revenue, and use her boyfriend’s revenue to repay his student loan debt. That is a reasonably specific declaration that, though he shall be answerable for paying off the debt, she shall be answerable for supporting him. In New Jersey, such an association together with different details might be used to point out that she was the supporting partner through the marriage and that he’s entitled to alimony within the occasion of their divorce – and what’s extra, entitled to alimony in an quantity that may enable him to proceed devoting his total revenue to paying off his student loan debt.
Certainly, it’s necessary to “get financially naked” along with your husband or spouse – in any case, you could be clear with each other so you may financially plan to your future. But within the occasion of a divorce, it’s additionally necessary to appreciate that the best way you handled pre-marital student loan (or different) debt throughout your marriage might have an effect on the end result of monetary points attendant to a divorce.
Jessica C. Diamond is an affiliate within the agency’s Family Law Practice, resident within the Morristown, NJ, workplace. You can attain Jessica at (973) 994.7517 or [email protected]