Are Student Loans Taken Out During the Marriage Marital Debt in Pennsylvania?

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Are Student Loans Taken Out During the Marriage Marital Debt in Pennsylvania?

The issue of student loan debt can be a major source of stress for young adults in the United States. Even for those who are able to secure employment after completing their studies, the debt burden can be overwhelming. But what about student loan debt that was accumulated by a spouse during the course of a marriage?  Are both spouses responsible for the student loan debt of one spouse in the event of divorce?  The Pennsylvania Superior Court in Hicks v. Kubit, 758 A.2d 202-206 (Pa. Super. 2000) weighed in on this question.

In Hicks, Wife borrowed over $30,000 during the marriage to pay for school.  When the parties divorced, the issued presented was whether that borrowed money was marital debt and therefore also Husband’s responsibility to pay back.   The Superior Court held that, yes, student loans that are borrowed during the marriage are technically marital debts.  However, the court also held that while student loans borrowed during the marriage are marital debt, it is within the court’s discretion to assign all or some of the debt to one spouse, depending on the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the debt.  In Hicks, where Wife borrowed the student loan money and was the sole and exclusive beneficiary of the education, the Superior Court held that the trial court properly assigned all of the student loan debt to Wife.

As Hicks makes clear, all student loan debt acquired during the marriage is marital debt and therefore both spouses may be on the hook in the event of divorce.  How the court assigns that debt, however, is discretionary and based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the debt, such as whether both parties received the benefit of the education.

Where there is room for discretion, there is a need for a lawyer.  Contact LaMonaca Law’s team of family lawyers today with questions about your family law case! Click or Call 610-892-3877

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About Andrew Francos

Andrew graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics. During his time there, Andrew was a two-time letterman for Franklin and Marshall’s Division I wrestling program. After college, Andrew attended Widener University Commonwealth Law School, where he was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. After graduating from Widener in May 2022, Andrew passed the Pennsylvania Bar Exam and accepted his current position at LaMonaca Law. Andrew brings with him a strong commitment to family values and looks forward to serving clients with the same level of zeal as he would expect his family to receive.