Couples in California and around the country could be more likely to divorce if they have student loan debt, according to a study conducted by Student Loan Hero. Other studies have found that general money problems are a top source of marital discord, but this study discovered that unpaid student loans are especially toxic for marriages. Specifically, researchers found that one-third of divorced couples blamed general money disagreements for their divorce and one in eight said that student loan debt was the particular cause.
It's understandable that student loan debts cause marital stress because they are often large. In fact, the average U.S. student loan balance is now $34,000, which represents a 62% increase over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the number of borrowers with student loan debts above $50,000 has increased 300% over the past decade.
Student loan debt puts strain on relationships by limiting a couple's ability to save for major purchases like a home, new vehicles, or vacations. According to financial experts, the best way for couples to deal with student loans and other types of debt is to openly discuss them and create a repayment plan. If a couple has not yet gotten married, they may want to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement that addresses how the student loan will be repaid. For example, if one spouse makes payments toward the other spouse's debt, the prenup could stipulate that those payments get credited back to them in the event of a divorce.
Individuals who are getting married may wish to have their respective family law attorneys help draft a prenuptial agreement that meets their needs. Meanwhile, those who never had one could retain an attorney to help resolve the applicable divorce legal issues.