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Student debt can follow a spouse beyond divorce

Student loans are great tools for helping individuals to achieve their educational and professional dreams. However, large obligations can be among some of the most serious areas of dispute in a marriage. Pennsylvania residents are not subject to the same terms as those living in community property states in the event of divorce. The state's use of equitable distribution, however, may lead to some continuing student loan obligations after a marriage ends.

The individual who incurred a student loan would continue to bear responsibility for that debt after a divorce. If the loan was taken out before the debtor married, the other spouse would not typically bear responsibility. A loan taken out by a married individual, however, would be an obligation of both parties. Similarly, a consolidation loan used by a couple to reduce interest rates for one party's student debt would be the obligation of both spouses even after they split.

Tools such as prenuptial agreements could be used to define terms such as the repayment of student loans in the event of divorce. Additionally, a couple facing divorce could bypass the litigation process to engage in negotiations over debt division in a more casual setting. Collaboration allows spouses and their lawyers to discuss the matter respectfully. Mediation involves the facilitation of discussions between the spouses and a neutral third party. Debt resolution and other important issues could be evaluated and decided without the will of an external party being imposed on the couple.

Because a divorce can be stressful and financially difficult, it is important to enter the process with a sound understanding of family finances. Issues such as hidden bank accounts and secret credit cards could lead to an unfair financial outcome. A family law attorney might request that a forensic accountant review a client's accounts and information to ensure that any financial secrets are exposed prior to arriving at a divorce settlement.

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