Burke Levy, P.C.

Do student loans make divorce more expensive?

Financial worries are common during divorce, but one group of people tend to stress a bit more -- student loan borrowers. Money problems are not uncommon causes of divorce in Massachusetts, but student loans seem to be especially stress-inducing for some couples. Even when divorce seems like the best choice, student loan borrowers may even put off filing because they are worried about the potential financial repercussions.

A survey found that 13 percent of people who were already carrying student loans when they got married say that the debt ultimately caused their subsequent divorce. However, this issue is certainly nuanced, as 35 percent of respondents to the survey stated that they put off filing for divorce because they could not afford it. Only 24 percent of people without student loans reported delaying divorce because of financial restraints.

The average college graduate in 2017 left school with nearly $40,000 in debt. A typical monthly payment for a 10-year repayment plan can be around $437, although many graduates are on income-driven repayment plans, or IDRs. Although IDR plans can shrink how much a person pays each month, over half of all student loan borrowers who filed for divorce had to borrow money to do so.

Although understandable, financial worries should not prevent anyone from filing for divorce. Still, Massachusetts divorcees who have significant debt or are married to someone with tens of thousands of student loans should be certain that they fully understand the implications of asset division. While this process is most commonly known for handling the division of property like vehicles, furniture or homes, most couples will also end up dividing some or all of their debt.

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