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In my divorce my husband took on our student loans. Sallie Mae says I am still responsible for anyway. Am I still responsible?

Nauvoo, IL |

I need to know if I am responsible to pay back the student loans. We had consolidated the loans under his social security number. For the first 4-5 years he forged my signature to get the deferments. Now I have to sent him my income information so he can get a reduced payment plan.

Am I still responsible to help pay these student loans, if he doesn't? If not, how do I rectify having to send in my income and being on the loans.

The judge for my divorce granted it, and I thought that the ruling would be the one Sallie Mae would have to follow.

Thank you

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Nope! The divorce court does NOT have authority to "re-write" the contract between a creditor and a debtor. Thus, even though the divorce judge told your ex to pay the student loans, if he does not pay, the creditor STILL has the right to go after you for the payments. In Oregon, AFTER you have paid off the joint debt you can file to get a judgment against your ex for re-imbursement of the debt that he was supposed to pay, but you actually paid. I suggest you run this problem by your divorce attorney. Good luck.

    Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.


  2. The creditor is not a party to your divorce and, as a general rule, it does not have to follow what a family court judge says. Unfortunately, this is often a big surprise to people where one spouse is ordered to pay a debt, doesn't do it, and the other spouse gets stuck with it. Be sure to keep your student loans current (unless you qualify for a hardship deferment or something similar). They are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy except for some very limited exceptions, and they are one of the few creditors that can garnish Social Security payments and intercept tax refunds.

    The answers to these questions may be different depending on your individual circumstance and should not be considered as legal advice or the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


  3. The problem you are having should be confronted as a post-divorce decree issue. If you can contact the lawyer that helped you with the divorce, that is the first option. If you no longer want to use that lawyer, you should hire a new lawyer to help you with the post divorce issues.


  4. This is a very common problem for people who are divorced and one of the spouses was tasked with responsibility for a joint debt or debt of the other spouse. Although a judgment for dissolution of marriage may provide you with some recourse against your ex-spouse, it does not change the terms and conditions of the promissory note/loan documents you signed with the creditor. Therefore, if you signed or co-signed for the loan, either originally or through refinancing, you are likely still responsible for the debt. Therefore, the student loan company may pursue you for the debt. Your only recourse may be to bring your ex-spouse back to family law court to enforce the judgment for dissolution of marriage.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the State of Illinois only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Illinois. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.


  5. Sallie Mae was not a party to your divorce and is not bound by it. You entered into an agreement with them. Your divorce decree probably says that your ex is responsible for this debt and if he fails to pay, he will indemnify you. You should return to your former attorney for help or hire a new attorney if your ex is not complying with the terms and provisions of your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.

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