Since many people get married in their mid-to-late 20s, they often bring student loan debt to the marriage. They may have just graduated in the last few years, and they each have loans to pay back. As a married couple, they work together on making those payments.
But what if you get divorced? Then what happens to the debt?
In short, nothing. The debt stays with the person who incurred it in the first place. It is generally considered separate property belonging only to that individual, so their spouse does not have to take responsibility for any portion of those payments.
People sometimes get confused about this because they know that debt from the marriage may belong to both people. If a couple buys a car together, for instance, they may both be responsible for that debt, even if only one person typically drove the car for work. If one person goes back to school and they get more student loans, that may also count as marital debt that gets divided along with the couple's assets.
However, that's only true for debt from after the wedding day. It typically does not extend to debt that existed before the two tied the know. One exception is if they have signed a prenup stating that they will both take on the debt. It can also get complicated if they take out more loans to consolidate debt, with some of that debt coming from prior to the marriage.
If you do decide to get divorced, you absolutely want to make sure you know your rights when it comes to the division of debts and assets.