Student Loan Debt Acquired Before Marriage and Its Effects on Maintenance

  • Divorce
April 24, 2024

Unfortunately, most Americans have incurred student loan debt. You may wonder what happens to your student loan debt acquired before marriage and how those monthly payments will affect and factor into maintenance payments to the other spouse. Maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, is court-ordered payments from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse.

Absent an agreement or contract signed by both parties, federal student loans and private student loans remain the borrower’s sole responsibility. Accordingly, if you acquire student loan debt before marriage, your spouse is not usually responsible for that debt.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer on how separate student loan debt could affect an award of maintenance under Colorado law. However, the Court will look at a specific set of factors when determining if the lower-earning spouse should receive maintenance from the higher-earning spouse.

Among other factors, the Court will consider the “financial resources of each, including but not limited to the financial resources of the payor spouse, including the actual or potential income from separate or marital property or any other source and the ability of the payor spouse to meet his or her reasonable needs while paying maintenance” (C.R.S. 14-10-114). Similarly, Colorado case law emphasizes that the primary objective of maintenance is to assist a spouse who needs support when the other spouse has the ability to pay support (In re Marriage of Morton, 2016, COA 1).

Likewise, Colorado law emphasizes that the Court has discretion to determine the award of maintenance that is fair and equitable to both parties based upon the totality of the circumstances, meaning that the Court will base its decision on all available information in the case. Therefore, when determining whether to award maintenance, as well as the duration and amount, the Court will consider your entire financial situation, including your student loan repayment obligation, among other factors.

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Navigating any aspect of a divorce can prove to be complicated and exhausting, especially when dealing with a more complex issue like student loan repayment and its effect on a maintenance award. Our attorneys are here to guide you through these complex legal issues.

For more information, contact an experienced family law attorney at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. today.

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