New Jersey spouses in the midst of divorce have many calculations to make before they sign a divorce agreement. One of these relates to their post-divorce financial life. They will not want to be saddled with their spouse’s student loan debt. The good news in New Jersey is that absent some extraordinary circumstances, a spouse will not have to pay the debt of the other spouse.
The general rule in New Jersey, since it is not a community property state, is that the spouse whose name is on the loan is responsible for making the payment. This goes for student loan debt that was taken out both before and during the marriage. Where this may change is when one spouse has co-signed on the other’s loan obligation. Then, even if the two divorce, the co-signed is still required to pay if the other defaults. One thing that a spouse may want to consider is obtaining a release of their co-signer obligation. This can be negotiated in the divorce agreement.
In addition, an individual may want to consider addressing student loan debt independent of the divorce by taking out a consolidation loan. This can lower the interest rate and possibly roll out the repayment term. In addition, a person could consider an income-based repayment plan if they are having trouble making their monthly payments.
A divorce attorney may help protect their client in negotiating the divorce agreement if there is a chance that they may be stuck with the debt of the other spouse. The attorney may recommend asking for a higher amount of the marital estate if there is a chance that the client may be indebted because of a loan that their ex-spouse took. Legal assistance might be helpful here as each party tries to begin their post-divorce financial life.