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One of the biggest stressors during a divorce is how to split your property, assets and debt. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court does not divide the property 50/50 but instead divides property on the idea of fairness. In some cases, this means a 50/50 split, but not always.

One of the primary sources of debt for couples is student loans. If you took out student loans for college, who is responsible?

When did you obtain the student loans?

If you obtained your student loans before marriage, you will continue to be responsible for the loans following the divorce. However, when you obtain a student loan during your divorce, it becomes more complex. If your spouse puts his or her career on hold for you to go to school or has a low earning power, he or she may have limited responsibility for the loan. Likewise, if your spouse took care of the house or supported you by driving you to classes, the judge may determine he or she already paid the dues.

How did you use your money?

If you only spent your student loan money on tuition, books and other school-related fees, the court may deem you fully liable for the debt. However, if you used the student loans to pay for your combined living expenses, then the debt may remain for both of you to pay.

If you needed your spouse’s help to qualify for the loan, it may also be a joint debt. For instance, if your spouse cosigned, he or she will remain responsible for the debt, despite the divorce.