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San Leandro Family Law/Law/Legal Blog

My spouse has student loans: Will we split them in divorce?

Let's say your wife just finished eight years of medical school, which resulted in $100,000 in student loan debt, and now she's about to start her career as a doctor. However, today she told you that she wants a divorce because she fell in love with a fellow medical student.

After the dust settles around the emotional shock of losing your spouse to another man, you start to wonder about that $100,000 in debt. Debts incurred during the course and scope of marriage are divisible, right? Are you going to be on the hook to assume $50,000 in debt for a medical degree that never benefited you?

Mediation can make divorces less traumatic for children

While divorces are a difficult time for everyone in the family unit that is being dissolved, it can be especially trying for any children who are part of the family. Often, a drawn-out, contentious divorce can traumatize children, who may feel like they have to choose sides. They may worry that if they choose to live with one parent, the other will love them less.

They may be terrified at the prospect of testifying in court about the marriage or their preferences. Choosing to settle issues like custody via divorce mediation can protect your children from the worst emotional fallout involved in the divorce process.

When you work together, love wins

You're angry, hurt, sad and confused. This is not what you had planned for your life. When you said, "I do," you meant forever--it was not something you took lightly. But the marriage is ending and, in some ways, you may not even know why.

You've got kids and the one thing you do know is that you could never have had such a great gift without your spouse. They're hurting, too. So how can you make the best decisions for all involved? The answer? A collaborative divorce.

How to prepare for your divorce mediation

No matter how you go about it, divorce comes with a certain amount of stress and worry and can be an emotional roller coaster. Divorce mediation can help remove some of the stress and save you time and money. Like all legal situations, however, preparation is key. Follow these tips to help you prepare for your mediation:

1) Put your emotions on hold

Before you begin the process, one of the most important tasks is ensuring you can control your emotions during the meeting. This isn't always easy as anger and hurt can seep into the equation quite easily. By working through these emotions before your mediation begins, you can step into the process with a clear head and deal with the issues at hand in a non-combative way that will make the entire mediation a little easier.

Tips to reduce your children's stress during divorce

No parent wants to see their children hurt. While it's impossible to shield your children from your divorce, there are things you can do to reduce its impact on them. Here are some tips we offer our divorce clients:

1. Keep your children out of the debate

When emotions are high, it's easy to want to pit your children against your soon-to-be-ex. Remember: Children are highly sensitive to what is going on around them, particularly during their parents' divorce. They can grow to resent their parents for putting them in the middle of the argument, or may feel responsible for keeping their parents happy. Wherever possible, do not involve your children in the divorce. Keep them out of mediation, out of any heated discussions (never argue about your divorce in front of your children) and out of court.

This does not mean you shouldn't talk to them about the divorce, but keep the conversation focused on your children, their questions and how they are feeling.

Do courts still favor mothers for child custody?

California law does not favor mothers over fathers. That was certainly true in 1950, when two-thirds of women stayed at home with their children. Now, we have homes where both parents work and homes where dads stay at home with the kids. Society has changed, and so have our laws.

For example, California's laws state that it is public policy:

  • For children to have continual contact with both of their parents, as long as it is safe
  • To encourage parents to share in child rearing

Rather than asking "Who is the child's primary caregiver?" courts must ask, "What is in the child's best interests?" They look at many factors to determine what makes the most sense for the child's safety, health and welfare.

Is it possible to get out of divorce alive?

So you're getting a divorce. You've probably heard the horror stories from the friend whose spouse fought tooth and nail for custody, or the relative who spent thousands of dollars fighting over property division. It is possible to get out of your divorce alive and possibly even okay?

Yes. Divorce does not have to be a battle. Courtroom litigation is not your only option. There are peaceful resolutions that can help you get through your divorce quicker, more cost-effectively and with much less stress. Here are a few of the options you have:


During the mediation process, you and your spouse will meet with a neutral facilitator (the "mediator") who will help you discuss and resolve your issues outside of court. The mediator will foster discussion and help each party understand the other's position.

What My Clients Say

Kathleen K. Reeves & Associates
  • "Kathleen treats her clients with respect and works on their behalf at all times. It's great to feel that you have someone in your corner looking out for you when you go through a process like this. She not only knows the law, but she has a great style for reaching agreement and getting resolution." - Carson
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