Study: 1 in 8 Divorces Caused by Student Loan Debt

Americans are now burdened by $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, and it appears that this massive debt load is leading to the breakdown of marriages.

We already knew money was the leading cause of marital stress, thanks to a study by SunTrust Bank, but a June 2018 study by debt management website Student Loan Hero has found that student loans are specifically to blame for the end of many relationships.

Thirteen percent of divorcees–essentially 1 in 8–blamed the failure of their marriages on student loan debt specifically. Student Loan Hero surveyed more than 800 divorced adults in the summer of 2018.

Hard to Avoid

Tuitions have skyrocketed over the last 15 years, far outpacing any increase in earnings power. According to Experian, the average student loan balance is now $34,144. That’s up 62 percent over the last decade. Making matters worse, more borrowers are carrying even higher balances; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has tripled over the last decade.

Delays in Divorce

While student loans are leading to divorce, they are paradoxically leading unhappy spouses to stay together longer. Why? Because the student loan burden causes them to delay divorce due to costs. 35 percent of survey respondents said they delayed their divorce because they couldn’t afford it. That compares to just 24 percent of couples who did not have student debt.

Debt Upon Debt

Those who have student loan debt were also more likely to go into further debt to cover the costs of their divorce. 58 percent of student loan debtors said they had to borrow to pay for their divorce, versus 43 percent of people who did not carry student debt. To add to the difficulty, 23 percent of student loan borrowers borrowed $10,000 or more for their divorce, and 10 percent of them borrowed $30,000 or more.

Feeling Trapped

In our experience as Texas divorce attorneys, it makes sense that student loan debt would play a factor in marital strife. Quite often, there are other things going on in a relationship, and then the debt issue adds even more stress. Heavy student loan debt can prevent a couple from achieving certain milestones, like buying a house, saving for retirement, or going on vacations. When that happens, it is common for the spouse who doesn’t have student loan debt to begin resenting the other spouse, whose debt is preventing the couple from reaching these goals.

That can lead to the feeling of being trapped, which only exacerbates whatever other problems exist in the marriage.

Do You Need Advice?

If your marriage may be coming to an end, the help of an experienced lawyer can help you get through it. Contact the Law Offices of V. Wayne Ward in Fort Worth if you have any questions.