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Michael A. Johnson
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Student debt stress can contribute to divorce

| Aug 8, 2018 | Divorce |

A large number of young people in Arizona and across the country face a large debt burden in the form of student loans. On average, the outstanding balance of a student loan borrower is $34,144, and that number is higher for members of the class of 2017, whose average debt burden is $39,400. Over the past 10 years, the number of people who owe $50,000 or more in student loans has tripled. While a number of researchers have looked into the social effects of rising tuition and escalating student loan burdens, these can also have a significant impact on borrowers’ personal lives.

Many millennials have postponed marriage and other significant milestones due to concerns about their debt burden and how to manage it. For those who have married, the stress and pressure caused by student loan debt can put them on the road to divorce. One survey of student loan borrowers found that 43 percent regularly argue with romantic partners about money. Another survey found that one-third of divorced borrowers said that financial issues, including student loan debt, was an issue in their divorces, while 13 percent said that student loans were specifically responsible for the end of their marriages.

Educational debt can put pressure on a marriage from many directions. The individual with a large debt burden may be anxious and even depressed about his or her student loans and may feel distant and isolated from a partner as a result. In addition, differences about plans for the future can arise when people want to postpone child-rearing or a home purchase.

Student loan debt can also expose some of the underlying conflicts in a marriage over money. When people decide to divorce, a family law attorney can help them to protect assets and come to a fair agreement about property division and other major issues.

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