If you are currently seeking a divorce from your partner, one of the worst things imaginable is becoming hampered by his or her debts. The situation feels even worse if the marriage ended because of financial strains. Matters become even more complicated if he or she took on that debt without your knowledge and without your consent. 

Unfortunately, if you divorce in the state of Wisconsin, you may become liable for your spouse’s student loan debts. NerdWallet explains that this stems from Wisconsin’s status as a community property state. Other states with similar laws include Nevada, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. 

Why do community property states do this?

In community property states, any debt or assets taken on during the marriage belongs to both parties. When couples acquire assets, this benefits both parties. It offers great protection for stay-at-home spouses whose exes may try to keep assets to themselves. However, when debt sits on the table, courts divide this as well. 

What if one of us does not live in a community property state?

Even if you choose to divorce in another state, you may find that you still need to contribute to your ex’s student loans. This most commonly happens if you co-signed on the loan. In this instance, you may convince your spouse to refinance the loan to remove you. 

You may also become liable as part of the divorce settlement, depending on other financial considerations in the marriage. Here are some examples: 

  • You want to avoid paying alimony, so you offer a larger settlement and offer to pay off student loans. 
  • You agreed to pay for your spouse’s college degree in your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. 
  • Your spouse made career-building contributions prior to pursuing a college education. 

Paying your spouse’s student loan debts may feel like an unfair way to end a marriage. To reduce your portion of that debt, consider negotiating with your spouse as amicably as possible.