California couples who get a divorce likely find that the process can very stressful, especially where it pertains to how all of the assets and debts are divided. In situations in which there is student loan debt, both parties may be very concerned about how the debt will be split.
Divorcing couples should know that any debt that is obtained before a marriage is categorized as separate property. This means that if one party acquired student loan debt before getting married, it will remain that party's debt after the end of the marriage. However, if the student loan debt was incurred after getting married, it is categorized as marital debt, and how it is treated during a divorce depends on how a divorcing couple's state of residence treats marital debt.
Depending on the state, marital debt can be considered community property or equitable distribution. Typically, marital assets and debts will be split equally between the two divorcing parties if they reside in one of the nine community property states. In addition to California, these states also include Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho and Texas. Couples getting divorced in one of these states will have to equally divide all of the student loan debt that was incurred after they got married. There is an exception for couples getting a divorce in California: Student loans are treated as separate property even though California is a community property state.
The remaining states adhere to the equitable distribution of debts in a divorce. This means that each case will be reviewed by the court, which will then determine the best way to divide the debt fairly.
A family law attorney may work to protect the rights and interest of divorcing clients in property division disputes. The attorney may litigate to obtain fair settlement terms regarding the division of high-value assets and debts.