When it comes to divorce, the dividing of assets and liabilities is one of the most complicated things a couple will have to deal with. There is a lot involved in deciding who gets to keep what and who is responsible for shared debt. Speaking of debt, if one’s spouse has a student loan, in the state of Michigan, it may be considered shared marital property.

Shared marital property, by definition, consists of any assets or liabilities obtained by one or both spouses during a marriage, with some exceptions. Anything owned before the wedding is considered separate property. As Michigan is an equitable distribution state, shared marital assets and liabilities will be divided in a manner that is deemed fair for both parties. This does not mean everything will be split down the middle.

When it comes to student loans, those obtained before getting married will remain the responsibility of the owning party. If this type of loan is acquired during a marriage, the spouse for which the loan was not intended may end up having to pay it back anyway. The following factors will be considered when determining if both spouses will be held responsible for the debt repayment:

  • How the loan was used — was just for school or for living expenses as well?
  • What degree is earned — is it one that will result in the student obtaining a high-paying job?
  • Supporting spouse’s role — how much time and money did the non-student spouse contribute to his or her spouse’s education?

Student loan debt that is used for more than just school expenses is technically shared marital debt. However, if the nonstudent spouse put in or gave up a lot to support his or her spouse, that may be enough to be considered dues paid. If the degree is one that results in the graduate obtaining a high-paying job, again, the nonstudent spouse may not have to cover the debt.

If a couple is unable to work out the divisions of this type of debt, a judge will get to and will base his or her decision on the above factors — among a few others. No one wants to get stuck with their ex-spouse’s student loan debt; unfortunately, it is the nature of divorce. With assistance, Michigan residents can fight for a fair division of the student loan debt.