Get Out of Debt Guy

My Ex-Husband Stopped Paying On the Student Loans

Posted November 19, 2013

WRAL Reader Question

Dear Steve,

My now ex husband went to college and accrued quite a bit of student debt. At this point, it is closing in on 130k. At some point, he consolidated the loans, and added me to the paperwork. I agreed, because he said that I had to. I did not know there were options.

When we divorced, he agreed, in the divorce agreement before the judge, to take the student debt in exchange for me not holding any interest in anything else. He got the house, car, etc.

Since that time (2008), he has not made a loan payment, or arrangements for deferment. I found this out because they have sent me notifications regarding this and I guess that I am also currently being held responsible for this. I have tried to get more information, but I lack the access to the information, according to the loan holders.

I am now getting remarried and have concerns about this.

I cannot repay it. I am a stay at home mom of a toddler who has some health issues. My fiancee is working, full time, but has his own student debts and our support. We live on a paycheck to paycheck basis.

I have a couple of questions.

First, what is the likelihood that this could be discharged in bankruptcy?

Second, will my fiance's income be considered?

Third, should we wait to get married until I get this settled, or will it matter?

Lastly, is there any other legal option for getting free of his debt?

Thanks for any help that you can give.

Maureen

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Dear Maureen,

Wow. 

So we've got a couple of big problems here. The first is when you signed the consolidation paperwork you agreed to be a joint debtor and obligated to repay the debt. The divorce agreement is unfortunately just an agreement between the two of you and does not change the relationship with you and the lender.

People always think the divorce separates them from joint creditors, it does not. You can divorce your spouse but not your creditors.

Before we get way ahead of ourselves here there are some very important questions to figure out first. If this is federal student loan debt then you may want to enter into an income based repayment program. More information on those options can be found here.

But if this was private student loan debt and no payment has been made since 2008 then the statute of limitations might have expired on that debt and then it could be easily discharged in bankruptcy.

The first step would be to look for a local bankruptcy attorney, click here and get some specific advice on the statute of limitations and if bankruptcy can be used to break this lingering bond.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.