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Student debt could affect a divorce settlement

Student debt may be a common concern among today's college graduates, especially when it weighs on the financial health of a married couple. Financial issues are some of the most serious matters contributing to a divorce, and hefty student loans could come into play as a couple decides to call it quits. Leaving the marriage, however, does not necessarily imply leaving the student loan payments behind. Because Texas is a community property state, both marital debts and marital assets are in general subject to equal division by a divorce court.

Property division considerations may cause spouses to eye assets such as the family home during divorce negotiations. However, financial obligations are also meant to be equally split under community property laws. A student loan that was incurred during a marriage could become the obligation of both parties as they divorce. A loan that was taken out before the debtor married would typically continue to be that person's sole responsibility. However, the use of consolidation tools to lower interest rates would be an exception as this type of reorganization of one's student loans requires that both parties involved be permanently attached to the loan in question.

If finances have been a sore point during a marriage, they may continue to cause strife during the divorce process. Negotiation of a settlement without going to court might seem difficult, but litigation can be extremely expensive. A negotiated settlement could save both parties a great deal of stress and money. Issues such as student loans could be broached during mediation or collaborative divorce, methods that facilitate respectful discussion and problem solving.

A family law attorney might counsel a client about gathering relevant financial information prior to deciding to proceed with divorce. This would allow time to evaluate the full scope of the client's financial status. In some cases, a client might benefit from a delay in filing to allow time to close joint accounts and resolve other difficult financial issues.

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