Are Student Loans Marital Property in Florida?

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If you are getting divorced in Tampa, FL, it is far more likely that student loans will be an issue in your case than it was in decades past. More and more people are carrying substantial student loan debt later and later in life.

According to reporting from Forbes Magazine, Americans now have a record high $1.5 trillion in collective study loan debt. This raises an important question: Will student loan debt be classified as a marital debt during a divorce? The answer is ‘maybe’ — it depends entirely on the specific circumstances of the case.

Equitable Distribution in Florida: What that Means for Student Loan Debt

In Florida, marital property and marital debts must be divided in an equitable manner. All marital assets and marital liability will be split between the partners, in a manner that is deemed to be fair and just for both parties

If student loan debt is deemed to be marital property, it can be divided as part of a divorce decree. On the other hand, separate property is not subject to equitable distribution. If student loan debt is classified as non-marital property, it can be set aside and not considered as part of the divorce.

Three Key Factors that Will Determine the Status of Student Loan Debt

Whether or not student loan debt is a marital liability in Florida will always be assessed on a case-by-case basis. That being said, there are three key factors that will be considered. Specifically, these factors are as follows:

  1. Is the student loan(s) covered by a prenuptial agreement?
  2. When was the student loan debt incurred?
  3. Did the student loan help bring money into the marriage?

Prenuptial Agreements

As a starting point, if there is a legally valid prenuptial agreement that addressed student loan debt, then the terms of the agreement will hold. Of course, not all prenups are enforceable in Florida. Even if there is a prenuptial agreement, it should still be reviewed.

Date of the Student Loans

Next, the date of the student loan matters. Student debt, like most other debt incurred during the course of the marriage, is typically classified as marital property. There are some limited exceptions, but more likely than not, post-marriage student debt is a marital debt.

Financial Contribution to the Marriage

Finally, pre-marriage student loans that clearly helped to advance the collective economic prospects of the marriage may be deemed a marital liability. As an example, if a spouse took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school loans before getting married, that may still be considered to be a marital debt if they used their medical degree to bring in a lot of money while working as a doctor.

Discuss Your Case With Our Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyers Right Away

At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Tampa divorce attorneys have the skills and legal training needed to handle the complete range of property division matters, including disputes regarding student loan debt. To get a completely private, no obligation review of your case, please contact us now. With an office in Tampa, we handle divorce cases throughout the region, including in Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Manatee County.

Resource:

forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/02/25/student-loan-debt-statistics-2019/

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