In Virginia and across the country, much attention has been paid to the social issues that surround the nation’s growing student loan debt. Young people are particularly affected by educational debt and are graduating from college and university with larger burdens than in the past. The average student loan debt across the country is $34,144, but graduates of the class of 2017 owe an average of $39,400 in educational debt. While many have discussed the effects that these substantial debt burdens have on the choices that young people make, the effects can move far beyond career decisions and financial management.
Many millennials have reported that they have postponed marriage in order to address their student loan and other debts. Only 22 percent of people in this population are free of debt, and among those who do marry, the stress caused by student loans can lead to divorce. While these loans generally remain the individual responsibility of the borrower, the outstanding debt can have a significant effect on marital finances. People with student loan debt may have less money to contribute to the financial pot, and they may wish to delay milestones like purchasing a home or having children.
According to one study of 1,000 student loan borrowers, those who were divorced often cited financial issues as a cause of the marital problems. A third of the divorced respondents said that money concerns, including student loans, were involved in the end of their marriages while 13 percent specifically attributed the split to student loan debt.
Student loan debt is an issue that can reveal profoundly different approaches to financial management and decision-making and expose sometimes irreconcilable differences. Spouses who have decided to divorce can work with a family law attorney to seek a just settlement that protects their rights and reflects a fair division of property.