Written by Joanna Hughes

We often talk about the crushing burden of student loan debt. Now comes news that the marital fates of student loan borrowers are also affected. Here is a closer look at the extent to which debt impacts divorce for student loan borrowers, according to the results of a recent survey by Student Loan Hero.

A Contributing Factor

More than a third of people with student loans claim that debt and other financial factors contributed to their divorces. Family law attorney Taetrece Harrison says, “Usually there’s some relationship stuff that’s going on, and then on top of that, they start to complain about the debt. I don’t think [student loan debt] would be the driving factor, but it’s definitely a secondary factor.”

Meanwhile, 13 percent of divorcees specifically cite their student loans as the reason for the end of their marriages.

Divorce = More Debt?

Even worse? Not only is debt a contributing factor to divorce in many cases, but divorce also leads to the accumulation of more debt. 58 percent of people with student loans end up taking on more debt to pay for costs associated with divorce proceedings, compared to 48 percent of all divorcees. Their divorces also ended up costing them because of interest: $20,129 for people with student loans compared to $17,915 for those without student loans.

Furthermore, couples with student loan debt often end up delaying divorces because they cannot afford it, which can result in even more problems, such as new and appreciated assets which will be considered marital property, increased alimony, and emotional costs and the inability to move on. Harrison adds, “People’s whole situations can change. There are a lot of different factors that come into place. Things may change financially for you where things get worse, and if you had gotten some assistance, you could have gotten a divorce when you wanted it.”

There is one way to make divorce work in your favor: get a prenuptial agreement, or 'prenup'. “The easiest time to get someone to agree with something is when you’re in love,” concludes Harrison. However, many people are against the idea of such an agreement because, when they are happily in love, they do not want to consider the possibility their marriage could end in divorce.

Of course, taking on student debt is sometimes inevitable. To learn more about making the most of the student loan application process, check out three tips here.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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