Who is responsible for repayment of student loans post-divorce?

Over 44 million people across the United States have student loans, according to the New York Federal Reserve. The total student loan debt as of 2016 was $1.31 trillion and this number grows annually. When most of us take out student loans, we never consider how they could be affected by a divorce later in life. If you are one of the millions of Americans with student loans, read on to find out more about who is responsible for student loans and how they might be divided in a Michigan divorce.

Who is Responsible for Student Loan Repayment?

Under Michigan law, all assets and debts acquired during a marriage must be distributed equitably or fairly in a divorce. Fair and equitable does not necessarily mean 50/50. Rather, a divorce judge will take into account the contributions of each spouse, length of the marriage, outside assets, and much more in reaching a fair division.

The first step in determining liability for a student loan is to assess whether it is separate or marital property. If you incurred the student loan obligation before getting married, the debt will generally be considered separate property. In a divorce, it will remain your separate property, unless your spouse agrees to a different arrangement in a valid divorce settlement.

If, on the other hand, the student loans were taken out during the marriage, then the question of liability becomes more complicated. Division of student loan debts incurred during the marriage will require the court look at who paid the household expenses, who benefited from the debt, and whether the non-borrowing spouse offset the debt through other contributions.

One factor a divorce court will heavily weigh is for what purpose the funds were used. While normally student loans cover educational expenses, they may also go towards living expenses, which may support repayment by both spouses post-divorce. Further, a court will look at whether the borrowing spouse obtained a degree during the marriage. Professional degrees acquired during marriage may be considered marital property, making the loan then marital debt.

Student loans often become a critical issue in a divorce. Repayment of these loans can be negotiated during divorce mediation or brought before the court. Contact a divorce attorney for more assistance with protecting your rights during a divorce.

Why does winning an Oscar so often end in divorce?

Perhaps no achievement is so great in the entertainment industry as winning an Academy Award. Winning an Oscar is typically correlated with a surge in an actor’s career, but it also often leads to another seemingly unrelated event—divorce. A study conducted by the University of Michigan with the National University of Singapore discovered that Oscar winners, particularly men, are three times more likely to get divorced than other actors. Our Macomb County family law lawyers explore this interesting link, which also occurs in broader contexts, between awards and divorce below.

Status Disruption and Divorce

The social scientist review found that not only are Oscar winners more likely to divorce, nominees were also twice as likely to split than actors who are not nominated. The study found that in the five years following an Academy Award win or nomination, an actor’s career will flourish, often including bigger parts, better pay, and more film credits. It is this boost in status that social scientists believe ultimately leads some to divorce.

Status disruption is a term used to describe a sudden jump in social status which can impact not just your career, but your relationships as well. As your status suddenly elevates, Oscar winners and others that find themselves suddenly more famous, wealthy, or successful, may struggle to maintain their ties with their partner. However, for Oscar winners at least, the impact of status disruption on marriage seems limited to men. Women who were nominated or won an Oscar actually divorced at lower rates than other actors.

Spouses that experience a sudden windfall of any kind can attempt to protect their relationship by staying true to their values and maintaining honest and open communication. Consulting with a team of financial experts to manage your new found wealth can help your relationship as well as your wallet by putting a financial plan into place.

Divorce linked to status disruption will often involve significant property and assets, making these divorces high stakes. Any spouse who is considering a divorce should consult with a licensed divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can immediately take steps that will help to ensure you emerge from the divorce financially and emotionally intact. Contact us today.

What are the penalties for concealing marital assets?

Rapper Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, has been accused of attempting to conceal millions in assets from his estranged wife. In October of 2016, Laura Van Winkle filed for divorce from the celebrity in Florida.  She sought the exclusive use of the family home, along with spousal and child support. Now, Laura Van Winkle is back in court and claims that Vanilla Ice failed to disclose substantial marital assets. She alleges that she discovered the rapper transferred a large share of his assets into his company’s name during the marriage. Now, the court is left to untangle a financial web of intermixed marital and separate assets, and Vanilla Ice could face trouble in court if he intentionally concealed assets.

Concealment of Marital Assets 

During a divorce, both spouses must make a full and accurate accounting of their marital assets so that the court can fairly divide the assets. At times, one spouse may attempt to conceal or hide assets from the other.  Sometimes, schemes to conceal assets begin long before the divorce is even initiated.  
There are many potential methods for hiding assets. A spouse could attempt to transfer real estate or bank accounts out of their name, may squirrel away joint funds in a separate account, or could withdraw and hide money in a safe deposit box. Other times, a spouse may attempt to deflate their income. This is particularly common when a spouse is self-employed and can write themselves checks for lower amounts.  

Uncovering Concealed Assets 

If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you may need the assistance of a private investigator or financial expert.  A forensic account is trained specifically to trace assets and uncover monies that have been hidden. You can also attempt to find the missing funds on your own with the help of your attorney and the court. You can subpoena bank statements, employee records, and more to unearth missing funds.
If your spouse is found to have concealed assets, he or she could face punishment in divorce court and potentially criminal court. The court may punish the concealer by awarding the innocent spouse a greater percentage of the marital assets. A judge could also order your spouse to pay you more in support to make up for the missing assets. At times, you can even be arrested for intentional concealment of assets.

What are the dangers of filing for divorce without an attorney?

A new web app called “It’s Over Easy” was recently launched with a goal of making divorce simpler and less expensive.  Launched by a celebrity divorce attorney who handled divorces for mega stars like Britney Spears, “It’s Over Easy” will ask you several questions in order to generate divorce papers.  The paperwork can then be filed by you in your local divorce court or the app can file for you.  While this new app could save you money in the short term, many divorce filers could find themselves losing out significantly in the long run because they are filing without a full understanding of their legal rights.

Do-It-Yourself Divorces

The “It’s Over Easy” app is just the latest in new technologies that purport to allow you to file for divorce without the help of a lawyer.  The app is aimed at couples that can reach an agreement on central divorce issues, like property division, alimony, and child custody.  The basic plan costs $750 and the premium plan will run upwards of $2,500.  While the web app may be less expensive than an attorney, depending on the extent of your legal needs, it could cost you far more overtime.

Even couples that can still communicate will benefit from the assistance of a divorce lawyer.  A divorce attorney performs the vital task of reviewing the facts of your case and offering an in-depth understanding of your legal rights under your state’s specific laws.  Armed with knowledge as to what you are legally entitled, you can then approach divorce mediation with appropriate goals.

Divorce mediation allows divorcing couples to come to an agreement as to the terms of a divorce with the help of a licensed divorce lawyer.  Your divorce attorney will ensure you do not sell yourself short, which can so easily happen to couples divorcing on their own.  Your divorce lawyer will confirm that every possibility to your divorce will be explored.  If negotiations come to an impasse, your divorce lawyer will help you to navigate the complex realm of contested divorces in order to achieve your best possible divorce outcome.  For these reasons, the individualized and experienced assistance of a divorce lawyer can simply not be matched by a computer program.