5 Considerations When Remarrying After a Divorce

After going through a divorce, particularly a difficult one, some people plan never to remarry. For others, remarriage may feel like the fresh start they need and the chance to try again after it didn’t work out the first time. There are several considerations any remarrying divorced person should be aware of, including possible impacts on your finances and children, and even the timing of your wedding (and then, of course, the possible need for a prenup before you say “I do” again!).

Reach out to your attorney to confirm that you can legally remarry.

Massachusetts imposes a 90- or 120-day waiting period between the date of your divorce judgment and the date that your divorce becomes final or “absolute.” If you remarry during this period (referred to as the “nisi” period), your marriage will be void. Confirm with your attorney when the nisi period ends to ensure that your remarriage is valid.

Consider the impact of your remarriage on your children and how to discuss the topic with them.

Blended families are common and often extremely happy and healthy. A solid foundation for a successful blended family is honesty and openness with your children, who will be significantly impacted by your remarriage, about what will happen when you remarry while acknowledging and being sensitive to their thoughts and feelings. For your children, your remarriage may mean new household members, including a new step-parent, step-siblings, new routines, and even new communities and schools. Take it slowly. Consider carefully how, when, and with whom these conversations should take place. It may make sense to speak to your children together or separately, depending on your relationships. It is important to acknowledge the effect of your remarriage on your children, be open, listen to their feelings about all of it, and give them time to digest and readjust. Timing can be very important here, and it may mean giving them several months to get used to the idea before any actual changes are made to your household and/or place of residence.

Keep in mind that a parent’s remarriage has an enormous effect on a child’s day-to-day life, all while being something that the child has absolutely no say in and over which the child has no control – just like the divorce. Children often hold out hope that their parents will get back together someday. The news of a parent’s remarriage can also be a significant shock and something that the child views negatively, at least initially. And yes, depending on the dynamics between you, your children, and your former spouse, ensuring that the transition into a blended family is as smooth as possible may mean that you need to inform and/or discuss your remarriage with your former spouse, possibly before you discuss it with your children. If your relationship with your former spouse will allow, try to make him or her an ally in ensuring that your children adjust positively to your remarriage, not an enemy. Your former spouse’s positive outlook and encouraging statements about your remarriage can have a significantly impact how your child feels about it.

Consider impacts on your finances before you remarry.

Alimony: One important consideration is alimony, as alimony terminates automatically upon a recipient spouse’s remarriage. If the loss of alimony will make it impossible for you to meet your day-to-day expenses, you should consider this carefully. Note also that the Alimony Reform Act also provides that alimony shall be “suspended, reduced or terminated” if the recipient spouse cohabitates with a third party and maintains a common household with him or her. In other words, if you have a “marriage-like” relationship with your new partner but don’t actually marry him or her, your alimony may still stop, or be reduced or terminated, so simply living together but not actually marrying may not mean that you continue to receive alimony. Consult an experienced attorney if you have any concerns about your alimony should you remarry.

Household expenses: Remarriage may positively impact your ability to pay household expenses, as many couples choose to share such expenses. Openness to discussing these issues, ideally before you tie the knot and not after, is an important aspect of a lasting partnership, so have that conversation sooner rather than later. Agreeing about how expenses will be paid now may reduce conflict after you remarry and may pave the way for positive conflict-resolution strategies in your marriage.

Consider possible impacts on financial matters relating to your former spouse and the terms of any existing agreements or judgments.

Alimony: If you remarry, your separation agreement or divorce judgment may require you to inform your former spouse of your remarriage within a certain timeframe, particularly if you are receiving alimony from him or her. Review your separation agreement to determine what timeframe exists (it may be before you actually remarry, not after!).

Life insurance: You may be inclined to immediately change beneficiaries on any life insurance to your new spouse (or even your new partner before marriage). Carefully review your separation agreement and any subsequent judgments or agreements to ensure that you are continuing to maintain any life insurance naming your former spouse as a beneficiary before making any changes.

Health insurance: If you’re currently providing health insurance coverage for your former spouse, your remarriage may make him or her ineligible for continued coverage under your policy. Review your health insurance policy terms to determine whether your former spouse will be ineligible once you remarry. In addition, review your separation agreement and any subsequent judgments or agreements relating to health insurance, as there may be a timeframe within which you’re required to notify your former spouse of any change in his or her eligibility. Alternatively, if you are enrolled in health insurance through your former spouse, you may be required to inform him or her pursuant to the divorce judgment, your separation agreement, or any modification agreements or judgments that you now have health insurance available to you through your new spouse.

Consider a prenuptial agreement with your new spouse.

If there is a significant difference between your income and your new spouse’s or between the value of your respective assets, you should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement (also called an antenuptial or premarital agreement). If either of you expects to receive significant gifts or inheritances (or received significant gifts or inheritances in the past), a prenuptial agreement may be advisable. As prenuptial agreements typically govern financial matters relating to estate planning and divorce, a prenuptial agreement may be important so that each of you can ensure that your children from your first marriage receive your assets at your death.

An approaching remarriage is a source of joy, but there are important considerations that any divorced person should be aware of before tying the knot. Reviewing your divorce judgment and separation agreement, and any subsequent agreements and judgments, is vital, as is consulting an attorney if you have specific concerns. And a prenuptial agreement can be extremely useful in setting the stage (and establishing expectations) for a harmonious remarriage!