Survey: 35% of student loan borrowers delay divorce because of costs
Going through a divorce can be complicated and expensive. The average cost varies between $ 12,500 and $ 19,200, depending on whether or not there are children, depending on Avocats.com.
But according to our Debt and Divorce Survey, student loan borrowers tend to be worse off than people without student loans. Here is what we found.
- Student loan borrowers go into more debt in the event of a divorce. Fifty-eight percent of divorced people with student loans have taken on debt to help pay attorney fees and other related costs during their divorce proceedings. Compare that with 48% percent of all divorcees who borrowed money to pay for a divorce.
- Couples with student debt are more likely to delay divorce because of the cost. More than a third of respondents with student loans (35%) delayed their divorce because they could not afford it, compared to 24% of couples without student debt.
- Student loan debt is a contributing factor in some divorces. Thirteen percent of respondents who incurred student debt early in their marriage say it ultimately led to the end of their marriage.
- Divorce has caused the majority of divorced people to change their financial habits. Almost 7 in 10 divorced people have changed the way they manage their money after their divorce. This is true for people with and without student loans.
The cost of a divorce can vary depending on how you handle it and what is involved. For example, mediation can be cheaper than a contentious divorce where one or both parties dispute the terms of the annulment. Common costs associated with divorce include:
- Lawyer fees
- Document fees
- Assessment fees
- Accounting fees
- Parental courses
- Custody assessment
- Court costs
Respondents to our survey spent an average of $ 18,652 on their divorce proceedings. Interestingly, student loan borrowers spent over $ 2,000 more than people without student loans on their divorce.
In addition to paying these fees, you may have to pay off some of your ex-spouse’s student debt, which could make your divorce even more expensive. This is especially the case if you live in a community property state, which includes Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
“If a person claims this debt while married, it is considered community property,” New Orleans-based family law lawyer Taetrece Harrison told Harrison Law Group. “So half the debt is yours and half the debt is your spouse. It doesn’t matter if the loan only has your name on it.
If you get married, for example, and your spouse takes out $ 50,000 in student loans to pay for your graduate studies, the court could force you to divide the student loans and pay half of them.
According to Harrison, it’s possible to create a payment plan with the court, but you may need to pay the full amount all at once.
Why student loan debt can lead divorced people to take on more debt
Graduates of the class of 2017 left school with an average debt of $ 39,400 in student loans.
With a 10-year repayment term and an interest rate of 6.00%, that’s a monthly payment of $ 437. So it’s no surprise that 28% of student loan borrowers with federal loans in 2017 were on Income-Based Repayment Plans (IDRs), according to the College Council.
These plans provide a lower monthly payment based on your discretionary income and family size rather than the original repayment terms.
When you have monthly payments that you can’t afford or that drain your budget too much, paying thousands of dollars for a divorce can be difficult.
According to our survey, 58% of student loan borrowers took on more debt to cover the costs of their divorce compared to 43% of those without student debt. In addition, 23% of student loan borrowers borrowed $ 10,000 or more for their divorce, and 10% took out $ 30,000 or more in loans.
Why delaying divorce can be costly
Student loan borrowers are more likely to delay their divorce because of the costs associated with an annulment. Among those polled, 35% of those polled with student loan debt had delayed the process because of the cost, while only 24% of those without a student loan did so.
But delaying a divorce can have its own costs. “People’s big picture can change,” Harrison said. “There are a lot of different factors that come into play. Things can change financially for you where things get worse, and if you had gotten help you could have gotten a divorce whenever you wanted.
To avoid this problem from the start, Harrison recommended getting a prenuptial agreement. “The easiest time to get someone to agree with something is when you’re in love,” she said.
Here are other potential issues that could arise:
- New and appreciated assets: Any assets that you accumulate before you file for divorce can still be considered marital property.
- Pension: If you are going to have to pay child support, the amount and duration of your monetary support depends in part on the length of your marriage.
- Emotional costs: No one wins in a divorce, and delaying the end of a tumultuous relationship can be difficult for you and your spouse. If children are involved, delaying the inevitable can also be difficult for them.
- To continue : Waiting until you get a divorce can make the transition difficult. In fact, if you are starting a new relationship or moving out before filing for a divorce, this decision could be used against you, especially if it is a custody battle.
How student loans can lead to divorce
More than a third of student loan borrowers say debt and other monetary factors contributed to their divorce, while only 23% of those divorced without a student loan cite the same reasons. In fact, 13% of divorced people blame student loans specifically for ending their marriage.
Harrison sees how student loans could make other problems worse, but she doesn’t see them as the number one reason someone wants to leave a marriage.
“Usually there are relationship issues going on, and on top of that they start complaining about the debt,” she said. ” I do not think so [student loan debt] would be the determining factor, but it is certainly a secondary factor.
That said, money problems of any kind can make a marriage difficult, and if you have oppressive student loan debt, the financial pressure can become unbearable.
Large debt balances and monthly payments can make it difficult to buy a home, save for retirement, or switch between paychecks. And since it’s virtually impossible to get a student debt release in bankruptcy, you can’t afford it.
This feeling of being trapped can exacerbate all the other problems you have in marriage, money related or not.
Another survey we conducted on student loans and relationships revealed other ways that student debt can hurt a marriage. For example:
- Thirty-six percent of student loan borrowers say they lied to a partner about money.
- About a third of respondents said they had decreased their libido as a result of their student loans.
- Many student loan borrowers have delayed major milestones in their relationship due to debt, including starting a family and taking their first romantic getaway.
While student debt isn’t guaranteed to cause problems in a marriage, it can be a cause for concern.
What You Can Do About Your Student Loan Debt
If you’re trying to manage student loans and marital issues, finding ways to reduce your debt load can help take some of the pressure off.
If you are already considering divorce, you can still improve your monthly cash flow and reduce the amount of debt you owe as a result of the cancellation. Consider these steps.
1. IDR packages
If you have federal student loans and aren’t already on an IDR plan, applying for one could reduce your monthly payment to between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income.
This option alone can alleviate many short-term cash flow issues as well as cover other essential expenses and work towards other financial goals. But keep in mind that private student loan companies usually don’t offer IDR plans.
2. Request a forgiveness program
Federal student loans also give you access to loan forgiveness, primarily through the Public Service Loan forgiveness (PSLF) and teacher loan forgiveness program.
The PSLF program, for example, offers a pardon after making 120 qualifying monthly payments if you work for a qualifying government or nonprofit and meet other requirements.
While it doesn’t necessarily solve short-term problems, it can be the light at the end of the tunnel that you need right now.
3. Student loan refinancing
Student loan refinancing companies allow you to consolidate your student loans into one new loan and potentially get a lower interest rate or monthly payment in the process.
These lenders offer both fixed and variable interest rates, but you usually need a great credit score and a good financial profile to get the lowest rates available.
Student loan companies also allow you to change your repayment term – some of the best lenders are up to 20 years – which can also help you lower your monthly payment.
One of the downsides to refinancing federal student loans is that you lose out on certain benefits, such as access to IDR and some student loan waiver programs. But if you don’t need these perks and can get a lower rate or payment through refinancing, it may be worth it.
Whatever you choose to do with your student loans, it is essential that you take the time to do your research and consider all of your options.
By doing your due diligence, you can potentially improve your relationship with your spouse. And if not, you can at least improve your financial situation in the long run.
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