When you marry someone, you combine your life, household and finances with them. Usually, this process is beneficial, but it can certainly complicate matters if the two of you decide to get a divorce.

The New York family courts will often wind up tasked with the unpleasant job of determining how to split up a couple’s possessions, assets and debts in a divorce. Many couples have strong opinions about the division of assets, but others may worry about substantial debt from their marriage.

Specifically, student loans can be a major source of financial strain and marital conflict. If you get divorced in New York, are you on the hook for part of your ex’s student loans?

The name on the loan is less important than the date of the loan

Some people assume that New York courts will not divide student loans because they are solely in the name of one spouse. However, the name on the loan is not nearly as important as the date when the debt originated because of the equitable division standard in New York divorces.

If your spouse attended college during your marriage, their student loan debt may wind up split by the court. If they came into the marriage with student loans, they will likely remain their separate responsibility after a divorce unless you signed an agreement to help them pay their loans.

The courts will also look at the intention behind the student loan. Was one spouse hoping to increase their earning potential in order to contribute to the family? Did the student loans cover household expenses, like rent and groceries, not just tuition and books?

There is a lot of nuance involved in the division of student loan debt in a New York divorce, but the chances are good that you will have at least partial responsibility for amounts of student loan debt your ex accrued during your marriage. Your family law attorney can provide more guidance based on your unique circumstances.