Is Student Loan Debt Leading to Divorce?

Student Loan Debt Crippling Young Marriages and Leading to Divorce

Finances have traditionally been a leading cause for why marriages end in divorce. Debt can cripple more than just a person’s finances. As a result, as a couple has more debt, the chances for conflict resulting in divorce often go up, as well.

As younger couples are getting married with increased amounts of student loan debt, this large financial burden is quickly becoming a major problem for their relationships. In fact, according to a new study, student loan debt is now becoming one of the major causes for divorce.

The Student Debt Problem

It is now estimated that 44 million Americans have some level of student loan debt to a combined $1.5 trillion, including both government and private loans.

Currently, the average student carries approximately $34,000 in student loan debt, but if a student wishes to obtain a higher degree, the costs are up into six figures.

If two students with advanced degrees marry, that amount doubles, making keeping up with the most basic of expenses very difficult.

In fact, when most students make payments, they are usually only paying towards interest over principal, which makes the payment plans extend as long as an average mortgage obligation.

The Burden Debt Puts on Married Couples

All of this debt is troublesome for young, married couples who are working hard to make ends meet. They have virtually no disposable income with all of their money going towards basic expenses, including housing, food, utilities, and, of course, student loan payments.

Both individuals will likely have to work, and many are putting off purchasing a home or starting a family due to these increased financial burdens.

On top of the loan obligations, many of them are living on credit, only adding to the debt they already carry. Add unexpected medical bills to the mountain of debt, and they are carrying quite the load of financial obligations.

As money gets tight, tensions run high, even in the most perfect of relationships. Spouses are both forced to work more, see each other less and this results in relationship issues, as well.

If one spouse has to stay home to raise children while the other spouse works at least one job to bring in money to meet obligations, this also can cause problems.

If the couple is not able to keep up, they often end up filing for bankruptcy, a process that can cause even more stress on a marriage.

According to a recent study of 800 student loan borrowers, at least one-third of them reported money as being a major cause of arguments in their marriages. Of these student borrowers surveyed, one of every eight reported that student loan debt was a direct and contributing factor for their marriage failing.

The problem is as education costs rise and wages do not increase with them, this problem is not likely to go away in the near future.

Additionally, many of these young couples reported that they felt that they had to get that college degree in order to find a stable and well-paying job that could support them and their families. In the past, a high school diploma was all an individual needed to find employment.

Currently, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree ranges between $20,000 and $35,000 annually. These figures include both in-state and out-of-state colleges. However, if the student chooses to get a master’s degree or other professional degree, the costs can be up to $125,000.

The chances of the student making enough to handle the loan payments on top of other expenses on a starting salary can be very tough, which also puts a strain on the marriage.

What can be done to help young couples with these issues?

Experts recommend the borrowers rely on federal loans before resorting to private loans.

Prior to getting married, it is recommended that both spouses be completely open about debt and maintain this open line of communication about debt and spending throughout the relationship. Hiding debt from each other is never recommended, and it is also important to stick to a budget, as well as a repayment plan for any loans or other debt obligations.

For those spouses who come into the marriage with more debt than the other partner, a premarital agreement may be recommended. No one wants to think about what would happen if the marriage is not successful, but if debt is a concern, it is a mature and wise decision to prepare a premarital agreement so that both spouses are protected.

Contact Voss Law Today!

If you are going through a divorce and have questions regarding what to expect, contact us today to discuss the best options for your case. Consultations are always free. Call us today at 323-333-4481.