Marry your Boo, Marry their Student Loans? Yes, that is the law in Florida

Prenup and Student Loans

Your upcoming marriage is just one more piece of the path that you and your fiancé have created together. You want to pursue your dreams side by side and to help each other along the journey.

If you are already married, perhaps your spouse is rethinking careers and wants to return to school.

Let’s say that your spouse wants to become a CPA and needs more education, or let’s say your spouse has decided to pursue law school, medical school, or to train extensively in a trade. Now the reality is that *both* of you will be pursuing an education because of the impact on your lives and finances as a unit.

Not only will you both be impacted during the school years, but after as well: under Florida law, you share the school debt together. Pursuant to the requirements of Florida Statute §61.075(1), if you and your partner divorce without a prenup or postnup, both partners assume liability for the student loan debt. Florida’s family courts hold that student loan debt incurred during the marriage is a marital liability. As a result, this debt must be distributed equally: “[I]n distributing the marital assets and liabilities [emphasis added] between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.” Fla. Stat. § 61.075.

In addition, certain professions may have limitations on ways that non-practitioners can be financially involved. In other words, the financial potential of a degree may not be available to those who do not have the degree and licensure. Let’s illustrate this point below.

For example, if your spouse obtained a law degree, you are paying for the law degree as much as the new lawyer, regardless of whether you can actually afford the debt. As a non-lawyer, you cannot purchase the value of, or invest in, any share of your ex-spouse’s law firm because the profession’s ethics code does not allow non-lawyers to have an interest in a law firm. Non-lawyers are also barred from a firm’s revenue-sharing. Given these constraints, you and your partner require a prenup or postnup to establish terms for who will be liable for student debt.

A new career goal, such as the law degree above, can bring wealth and more stability to your home and to future generations of your family. Apart from dealing with the consequences of school debt after the degree, the immediate challenge is getting through the educational years with both your finances and your relationship intact.

When one person sacrifices for the other’s dream, there is always the risk of potential resentments brewing – even if the two of you agreed on this situation wholeheartedly. Why? Because the finer nuts and bolts of day-to-day living, household responsibilities, debt, and other financial obligations may hit hard once you are both in the thick of the situation. Financial strain from only one significant income – especially if you are used to two incomes – can rattle the strongest, but sleep-deprived, individuals.

No one can take away the challenging aspects of putting a spouse through school. However, at JustPrenups, we can help you to define your financial and other limits both during and after the degree. A solid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can specify the terms for each partner when one pursues educational goals and is dependent upon the other spouse’s contribution of financial and emotional support as well as household labor.

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can detail your expectations of each other during this enterprise when time is limited, and fatigue is plentiful. For example, you can choose which spouse will be held accountable for managing taxes and which person should oversee most of the chauffeuring duties for the kids. Additionally, your agreement can name who will handle household bills and duties during this time, especially if the student keeps limited work hours.

Your agreement can indicate whether the spouse in school needs to repay the supporting spouse, how such repayment should happen, and by when. Not all couples will be interested in repayment, but for others, it will be essential to maintain harmony in the relationship.

Your agreement can define the logistical elements of your dream-chasing, such as how you will handle debt that may arise during the school years and how the two of you wish to circumscribe related risks if the educational degree turns into a business venture. Plus, there are other stipulations that you may explore, such as whether one spouse will provide an allowance to the non-working, student spouse while the person is completing the degree; your agreement should determine whether this allowance is a gift or if it needs to be repaid.

Only you know what will work for both of you as a couple. Your prenup or postnup – and JustPrenups’ step-by-step process and review – keeps your communication clear and transparent to each other. While that doesn’t sound sexy, it does sound loving to look out for each other’s best interests and to build a future together with your eyes on the prize.

At JustPrenups, we can help with a mediated prenup or a mediated postnup. The JustPrenups intake procedure guides you through the process of articulating your goals, fears, and hopes and finalizing them in an agreement.

Your consultation with us is free.

Prenups and postnup are not only about the status of alimony or the disposition of large assets; they are about those things that determine your happiness together.

We look forward to hearing about your goals.

Warning: All posts on this website and its partner website, the DADvocacy™ Law Firm, contain general information about legal matters for broad educational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. This blog post does not create any attorney-client relationship between the reader and or DADvocacy™ Law Firm.