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Deciding who pays student loan debt in a divorce

Since Kansas is an equitable property state, if residents get a divorce, the court will take several factors into account when deciding how to divide student loan debt. For example, if one person cosigned for the other spouse's student loan, then both people will probably be responsible for the debt. If one person came into the marriage with student loan debt, it will probably not be considered marital property, and that person will continue to be solely responsible for it.

In other cases, the issue is less clear cut. For example, a judge might consider how much support one spouse offered to the other in attending school, such as whether the person cared for the home or provided transportation. Spouses who offered more support may be less obligated to shoulder part of the debt. A court may also take income into account and be less likely to require a lower-earning spouse to help pay back student loans for a higher-earning spouse.

Courts may also consider how the loans were used. For example, if the couple paid their rent from the student loans or used them for other shared expenses, it is more likely to be treated as a shared debt than if the student used them only for school-related expenses.

Even if a court decides that a couple who are getting a divorce should share student loan or other types of debt, the debt may still be in the name of just one person. If the other spouse decides not to contribute toward repayment, even if the divorce agreement says otherwise, creditors may pursue only the debtor, who might have little recourse. Couples may want to consider whether they want to try to restructure their debts or divide property differently to offset having one person carry more debt.

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