Financial stress can be a contributing cause of divorce for many couples. Couples most vulnerable to the strain of financial worries are those dealing with student loan debt. Last year’s college graduates averaged almost $40,000 in college loan debt by graduation. Recent surveys indicated approximately 13 percent of divorced couples believe student loan debt was the primary cause of the end of their marriage.
Student loan debt has increased significantly within the last decade. According to the Experian credit agency, the amount of outstanding student loan debt now totals $1.5 trillion with individuals borrowing up to 62 percent more in the last 10 years. It is not uncommon for at least one spouse, if not both, to enter their marriages with at least some amount of student loan debt. The average amount of student loan debt per borrower totals over $34,000 in the United States. With the cost of college continuing to rise, the average loan amount is expected to be even greater in upcoming years. Within the last 10 years, the number of individuals borrowing over $50,000 in student loans has tripled.
Burden of Debt
Entering a marriage with significant student loan debt can place a substantial burden on a relationship. Certain couples choose to marry later in life because of these types of financial burdens. For others, debt impacts a couple’s lifestyle in a variety of ways, including the ability to purchase a home or take vacations. The amount of debt a couple has also factors into a couple’s decision when to have children.
Married couples are often unable to weather the particularly hard toll student loan debt has taken on their relationship. A recent study conducted by Student Loan Hero found over 33 percent of divorced individuals who had student loan debt during their marriages believed the debt contributed to their divorce. For some couples, a spouse’s decision to hide their student loan debt from their partner has created additional marital stress.
Marital stress over finances has become especially common with the millennial generation. A Deutsche Bank Research study indicated only 50 percent of millennials will likely earn more than their parents. As the percent of American children earning more than their parents continues to fall, the amount of debt incurred will continue to rise. The stress of living with a significant amount of debt has been well documented. One study revealed over 43 percent of borrowers regularly fight with their spouse over issues related to money.
Divorce experts caution engaged couples to address the issue of student loan debt prior to entering the marriage. Prenuptial agreements can specify any money paid by the couple toward paying down one partner’s student loan debt can be reimbursed toward marital assets. By using a prenuptial agreement to safeguard individual assets and cover a partner’s individual student loan debt, couples can alleviate potential stress for the non-debtor partner. Managing one’s education debt should remain a priority during a marriage.
Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Individuals Filing for Divorce in Maryland
If you are considering filing for divorce in Maryland, the experienced Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC are here to help. To inquire about property distribution, alimony, child custody, and child support issues today, call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online. With office locations in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Parkton, Pikesville, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.