Splitting Student Loan Debt
Posted By Posted by Blair Chan on Jun 26, 2014 12:55pm PDT || Jun 26, 2014
There seems to be an "urban legend" in Florida divorce law that student loan debt is treated differently than other forms of marital debt. I am often surprised that many clients, as well as experienced family law attorneys, operate under the assumption that student loan debt should not be equitably distributed between the spouses. The rationale that is often used is that the spouse who did not incur the debt and who did not receive the education, did not benefit from the other spouse's degree or education. However, this is not the law.
In Rogers v. Rogers, a 2009 Florida appellate family law case, the court specifically found and held that student loans should be distributed between the parties like any other form of debt. In the Rogers case, the lower court required the wife to solely repay all of her student loan debt as her sole obligation. The debt was carved out and unequally distributed to her. The appellate court reversed this and required that the debt be apportioned as a marital debt between the parties and specifically found that there was no basis in Florida's equitable distribution statute for apportioning the debt only to the party incurring it.
So what would happen if a successful female doctor, with substantial student loan debt and a substantial income, were to divorce her husband, a stay at home parent with no income? Would it result in a fair and equitable result to apportion any of the student loan debt to the husband?