Many couples who are divorcing carry a high student loan debt load, so one of the major considerations in a divorce is how much debt each spouse will have to assume. The rules in Maryland are pretty clear-cut regarding which spouse will be responsible for student loan debt.

Maryland is not a community property state. This means that when it comes to debt, the party who took out the debt and has their name on the loan is the one responsible for paying it back. This reduces the chance that one spouse will end up stuck with paying for their ex’s education after the divorce is final. The situation changes when one spouse took out a student loan during the marriage and the other spouse co-signed the loan papers. Then, their obligations as a co-signer will endure past the end of the marriage unless they are able to receive a release from the other spouse. Thus, in the event of default, the individual will still be obligated to pay even after they are divorced.

Spouses should act proactively to lower their student loan payments in advance of the divorce. They can do this by consolidating their loan at a lower rate or rolling out the term of the loan. They could also enter into an income-based repayment plan if they would have difficulty making payments.

A family law attorney may help their client protect their interests in the divorce agreement. This may help put them in a better position after the divorce and enable them to get a new financial start in life. At the same time, the attorney might negotiate provisions in the divorce agreement that could help protect their client in the event that they end up saddled with the other spouse’s financial obligations.