While the old adage says that money is the root of all evil; but in the midst of a divorce, it could be debt that brings out the worst in soon-to-be ex-spouses.  Indeed, it is common for divorcing couples to fight over property and money that will be divided, but it should not be forgotten how they fight over how debts should be paid.

Of course, if a spouse unscrupulously ran up credit card debt, a court may order that spouse to be responsible for paying that debt. The same would apply to a spouse convicted of fraud in a criminal action or a spouse found guilty of negligence in a civil action. Does the same fate await a spouse who is engulfed in student loan debt? The answer may not be so clear. 

Essentially, family court judges in Washington consider a number of factors before apportioning the payment of student loan debt. They take into account the person’s ability to pay the debt, which calls for an examination of his or her income, whether they are employed and whether they were awarded a specific portion of the marital estate. Additionally, judges have considerable power to assign responsibility for paying debt.

With these factors in mind, it is not a given that a college graduate will be automatically responsible for paying their own student loan debt. If you have questions about how to handle the payment of student loan debt after divorce, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.