More than half of all divorced people will eventually tie the knot again, so it should come as no surprise that many laws address second - or even third or fourth - marriages. Remarriages can affect issues of custody, alimony, and even inheritances, depending on your state's laws.
You Must Wait to Remarry in Some States
Remarriage is easier in some states than in others. A few states have waiting periods after your divorce is final, and you cannot marry again during this time. The waiting periods match the states' deadlines for appealing divorce decrees issued by a judge. You can't marry again until your ex-spouse has run out of time to appeal. These waiting periods don't always apply if you were divorced by settlement agreement rather than after a trial.
Remarriage Can End Alimony Payments
In almost every state, alimony ends when the spouse receiving it remarries. Exceptions exist if you're divorced by settlement agreement. Some agreements state that alimony will continue past the point of remarriage, and these agreements can override state laws.
Remarriage Can Affect Custody
In some cases, remarriage can affect custody - usually when the custodial parent remarries. When children have a very bad relationship with their new stepparent, or if the stepparent is abusive, courts will change custody to the other parent to protect the child. Remarriage has less of an impact on custody when a non-custodial parent remarries, although it can result in changes to the visitation schedule if the stepparent and the children don't get along.
Remarriage Can Affect Your Children's Inheritance
The laws in almost every state protect a current spouse from disinheritance. When one spouse omits the other from a will, the spouse receiving nothing has the option of accepting a percentage of the deceased's estate instead. This can result in the court dividing the estate in a way different from the deceased spouse’s intentions. Children from previous marriages might receive much less than the deceased parent wanted them to have.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Override the Law
Most states recognize prenuptial agreements. When spouses remarry, they can use prenups to override many state laws - including probate laws that allow current spouses to take a portion of a deceased spouse's estate. Prenups also can state that property owned before the marriage or inherited from a previous spouse isn't divisible in a divorce.
A Family Law Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding divorce and remarriage can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.