Question: I am married but unemployed and my husband refuses to pay my student loans, which I had before we dated. Do I have access to the money? Yes. But if I were to touch it it could cause a divorce as he feels it is not his responsibility as we were not together when I acquired the student loans. Is there a way out? Or is there some kind of loophole? I haven’t worked for years. I don’t even know how I would pay them back myself.
Need help paying off student loans or other debts? Email [email protected]
Responnse: The short answer, at least in your case, is this: in general, since you took out loans before you got married, “there is no escape and your husband is not legally responsible for your debt. “, says Leslie H. Tayne, financial lawyer and founder of the Tayne Law Group.
Even if a couple is married when one spouse takes out a student loan, the debt may still belong to the person who took it out; however, a spouse would be liable in situations such as if they co-signed the student loan or if the loan was taken out after marriage and the couple lived in a community property state such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin.
That said, “if you refinance and put both of your names on the loan, then your husband becomes legally liable for the debt,” Tayne says. And something else to note: At one point, Tayne says falling behind on federal loans can mean the government confiscates money from the joint tax return. “It could affect you if you file taxes jointly as a married couple. They can also seize your social security if the loan is in default,” says Tayne.
For anyone in a similar situation, but with private loans, Tayne says you could be sued by the repairer for not paying. “If you are unable to repay a private loan, seek out a student loan attorney. This way you may be able to avoid a judgment against any property you own and if a husband and wife own property together , you can [try to] avoid a lien being put on it,” says Tayne.
How you can repay your student loans
That said, your question now is probably how you’re supposed to repay your student loans without income. Although everyone’s federal student loans are on hold until May 1, 2022, Rebecca Safier, Certified Student Loan Counselor and Education Finance Expert at Student Loan Hero, says, “You may be able to [further] defer payments by deferral or forbearance. Both of these options allow you to temporarily suspend payments, although interest may continue to accrue on your balance. That said, as NerdWallet student loan expert Cecilia Clark notes, “This is a short-term solution. Longer term, you might want to consider an income-driven repayment plan,” says Clark.
Tayne also recommends an income-based payment plan: “You should contact your service agent and explain that you are unemployed and ask for an income-based payment plan,” says Tayne. Safier adds, “Payments on an income-driven repayment plan can be as low as $0/month and you can have your balance canceled after 20 or 25 years. But you’ll have to file your taxes separately from your husband if you want the plan to determine payments based on your income alone, rather than your joint income,” says Safier.
This issue underscores a bigger issue many couples face: the importance of having tough conversations about money with a potential life partner before you merge your finances — and if that didn’t happen, be really able to open up about things and come to a consensus. on the issues. “You could benefit from financial counseling to help you come to an agreement on how you should manage your money as a married couple,” says Jen Grant, Certified Financial Advisor at Perryman Financial Advisory.
Even after therapy, your husband may not see your loans as all or part of his responsibility. Grant’s advice: “You have to have certain skills when it comes to student loans. The labor market is the best it has been in the recent past. Now is a good time to search and I encourage you to find a job and be financially independent.
Ultimately, this scenario should give anyone struggling with loan repayment a better understanding of their options. “Ask about your credit report and your obligations. Talk to the creditor, tell them when you don’t understand something and ask them to explain it to you,” says Tayne.