How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Lucy, Esq. Your Own Question
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 29986
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Lucy, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I live in calif and my ex and I were married 17 years. When

This answer was rated:

I live in calif and my ex and I were married 17 years. When we married I had daughter who was age three married in 1993. For 15 years after that we claimed her as a dependent. She saw her birth father 6 days a month. She grew and getting ready to go to college. At last second birth father refused to pay half. My ex (her step dad) took out three parent plus loans...though only I did the paper work because only one parent CAN do it. We have made payments on one old the three loans since 2007. The two taken out in 2008 have not been paid and in deferment. Then ex leaves me (never saw it coming) on march 2010. We are still battling in court. He said my daughter is not his and thus the student loans are my problem. Attorney is blowing the loans off...but they equal 80 grand!! I would never have taken these loans out on my pay alone. I understand I am responsible per the government...but in the courts do I stand any chance or is it a lost cause?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

All debts acquired during the marriage are community property under Cal. Fam. Code, Section 910. It is not relevant that your daughter is not biologically his. The two of you could have signed an agreement before you took out the loans where you agreed that you would be solely liable for the debt. Since you didn't do that, the general law applies. The judge can order him to help make payments on the loans, or can order him to pay some portion of the total from his share of the community property.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
thank you for getting back to me. My attorney said something about there being special laws regarding student loans and since I am the one who applied for the parent plus loans, and she is only his step daughter, he is off the hook. Have you heard of any special laws in regards XXXXX XXXXX plus loans. Seems so unfair we took out the loans 2to3 years before he left and now I have to pay all by myself. I'm 54 us old and this runs my retirement. I wish I had a case that went before the courts like this to read and see how it was ruled
There are special laws regarding student loans, yes, but that has to do with who the government can come after for payment. In a divorce, the judge can divide any marital asset and assign any marital debt under basic community property principles. The divorce court judge doesn't have any authority over the government or student loan companies, but he can still order your husband to make the payments that he agreed to pay when you were married.
Lucy, Esq. and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
My attorney is on vacation. Her paralegal told her what you said and she said there is case law that exempts him being responsible for a loan against a step child. We go to trial in two weeks and I can't seem to get that case law from my attorney. I am just desperate to put my mind at ease and read it myself before trial. It's a huge debt he left me with. I just don't know if my attorney is right or if he is liable for half he debt. I need something concrete. I tried to research case law but I can't seem to navigate the Internet system.
If you can get to a law library, the librarians can help you navigate Westlaw or LexisNexis. If you do a key word search in California cases for "community property" and "student loan", then focus the results to search for "step-child," that may give you what you're looking for.

He wouldn't be liable if he had never agreed to be. That's because a person is not legally required to pay for a child from a spouse's prior relationship. What I'm saying is that you may be able to argue, as a matter of equity, that he should be held to his word and required to pay for the debts that he agreed to help pay, especially because you would not have agreed to incur the debts but for his promise. It's not really about whether the loan is for a step-child - it's about the enforceability of contracts made.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok I will do that. So basically it's about proving him and I had a verbal contract. Seems hard to prove since no one except my daughter was there. I mean I can prove we were married and were paying on one of the loans for two years prior to divorce. But it's still a "he I didn't" thing in the end. Thing that gets me is that they were parent plus loans. He raised her from toddler age. He took her to the school. He encouraged her to go in the first place. Anyway thank you. I wish I could find some case law or something where the verbal contract superseded the "step parent not liable" thing so my attorney would at least TRY
I hope you can convince him to at least raise the argument. A lawyer can raise any argument supported by the law, or where there is a good faith argument that the law should be changed, and this seems to fit that situation.

Your daughter could testify as to conversations she overhead between the two of you, if there is a dispute regarding what was said.