A healthy marriage takes a lot of hard work. You have to commit to working with your spouse and try to navigate life’s most difficult times together. Money and finances are often at the root of many marital problems. Unfortunately, young people today are facing more financial pressure than ever before. One of the leading causes of financial stress in young people’s lives is student loan debt. A new study now shows that student loan debt is one of the rising causes of divorce.

Student Loan Debt in America

College and post-graduate education used to be affordable. Today, however, the costs of education are through the roof. According to one agency, there are currently 44 million Americans who have student loan debt. Together they owe more than $1.5 trillion to the government and private agencies.

The average student has debt equalling approximately $34,000. However, many students, particularly those with advanced degrees, have much higher tabs. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that the number of borrowers who owe more than $50,000 has tripled over the past decade.

It’s not just the outstanding principal on the loans that is burdensome. Interest racks up on debt each and every day. As a result, the overall debt just continues to rise. When students make payments, those amounts are typically applied to interest rather than principal, which makes it tough to make a dent in the debt.

Debt Adds to the Stress of Marriage

Why is student loan debt contributing to divorce? Today, young people are working harder than ever to make ends meet. Instead of having a lot of disposable income, young couples find that their money is absorbed by things like housing, utilities, food, and outstanding debt repayment. Young people (and most Americans) are not just dealing with student loan debt. Most also have crippling debt because of credit cards and medical bills.

When money is tight tensions tend to run high. Arguments about everything, including finances, tend to occur more frequently. Spouses begin to resent one another because of the stress induced by burdensome debt. Partners may try to work more frequently to bring in more income, which just limits the amount of time they can spend with the person they love.

Many Young People Point to Student Loan Debt as a Cause of Divorce

A recent survey of 800 student loan borrowers highlights the rising problem of debt in America. One-third of individuals surveyed said that money is responsible for tension and arguments in their marriage. One out of every eight borrowers surveyed said that student loan debt directly contributed to the dissolution of their marriage. Student loan debt issues are on the rise with no end in sight. As a result, the number of young people who get divorced because of debt will likely increase, as well.

Student Loans Becoming a Cruel Necessity

Years ago, young people could secure a stable and good paying job with a high school diploma. Today, however, a college degree is often the minimum requirement for most entry-level jobs. The average cost of a degree ranges between 20,000 and 35,000 a year, for in-state and out of state tuition, respectively. It’s not uncommon for a four-year degree to cost students in excess of $125,000. That’s a lot of money to spend to get a job to support yourself and your family.

So, how can young couples, faced with the cruel necessity of student loans, protect their marriages? Here are some suggestions that may help to minimize the stress of student loan debt in your relationship:

  • Minimize loan burdens by borrowing as little as possible
  • Rely on loans from federal lenders, rather than private lenders
  • Be open with your spouse about the reality of debt and how it may affect your relationship
  • Design a repayment plan and stick to it
  • Acknowledge that debt can cause stress and develop positive techniques for handling it, and
  • Consider a prenup to protect certain property from being seized or garnished.

Dealing with debt is never easy. When you’re married, you have a built-in partner to help you get through the tough times. Discussing the issue head-on is essential to protect a marriage.


Have financial issues caused a rift in your marriage? Do you want to learn about your legal options? Call our Los Angeles family law attorneys to schedule a free consultation.