Spousal loans are when you consolidate your student loans with your spouse. The only problem is once this is done it cannot be undone.

Student loans are so abundant now. Over 43 million Americans have student loans which is about 1 in every 8 people. With a collective debt of $1.3 trillion shared among those people, it’s easy to see why we hear about the “student loan crisis”. However, something we don’t often hear about is spousal loans.

Spousal loans are when you consolidate your student loans with your spouse. The only problem is once this is done it cannot be undone. Shannon DeBlieck said she owed $4,000 in student loans when she and her husband consolidated to get a lower interest rate. The man she married had $19,000 in loans. In 2012, the two divorced. DeBlieck wanted to separate their loans but was hit with the hard truth that she could not, in fact, do that.

Even worse was with the interest over the years their once $23,000 in loans was now over $30,000. DeBlieck was also hit with the shock that both she and her former husband were both financially responsible for the loan. It didn’t matter that she owed so little before.

DeBlieck ended up having to pay the loan off in entirety by herself because her former husband was out of work. Unfortunately, this caused DeBlieck to lose her home and declare bankruptcy as she started working as a waitress at 43 to support her three children. The loan servicer garnished her paycheck and put a lien on her tax return to pay for the now defaulted loan.

The two had a court order during the divorce that he would pay the loan off. However, that doesn’t clear her legally from the responsibility of that loan. “I’ve basically been told there’s nothing I can do; I have to suck it up,” DeBlieck said. “He just skates away from $30,000 in debt.”

No one plans on divorce, but this is one of the pitfalls of it and should make you think twice before agreeing to a spousal consolidation. Steps to avoid Shannon DeBlieck’s story would be to be positive you want to consolidate your loans. You should also make sure you benefit from a consolidation. First, look into a consolidation by yourself before including your spouse. See if you can get what you need out of just consolidating your own loans. If you do decide that you and your spouse need to consolidate your loans, talk it through and make a plan before jumping right into it. Communication is key in finances and even more so in relationships.