Marriage is more than just a romantic union, it’s also a contract between two people who plan to share their lives. While couples rarely give great consideration to the legal aspects of a first marriage when they walk down the aisle, experiencing a divorce makes them far more likely to consider the legal implications of marriage before walking down the aisle a second time. According to the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, 55% of men and 44% of women over age 25 remarry after a divorce with a median time of 3.5 years between the divorce and a second marriage. But before remarrying after a divorce, most people take more careful consideration of the legal aspects involved as well as the impacts of a second marriage on their children and their lifestyle. What is important to know about remarrying after divorce?
Does a Second Marriage Impact Child Support Payments?
In California as in other states, child support payments serve to fulfill a parent’s responsibility for the maintenance of their children. That fact doesn’t change due to a parent’s remarriage. In most cases, remarriage does not impact the child-support responsibility of a paying parent or affect a receiving parent’s right to continue receiving their court-ordered amount of monthly child support. Regardless of the amount of income a step-parent brings to the family, the responsibility to support the children remains with the biological parent.
Only in the event that a remarriage results in a significant change in financial circumstances for the child support-paying parent will a judge consider a request for modification of the child support agreement. For instance, if a parent with limited income has an additional child with their new spouse and faces financial hardship, a judge may consider modifying the order.
How Does a Second Marriage Impact Spousal Support?
In most cases, an award for spousal support (alimony) terminates upon the remarriage of the support-receiving spouse. Because a spousal support order is intended to bridge a gap in income between divorcing spouses, gaining access to a new spouse’s income typically ends the right to support from an ex-spouse. Only in limited circumstances does termination of spousal support orders not apply upon remarriage, including:
- If the divorce agreement specifies that the spousal support award doesn’t end with the receiving spouse’s remarriage—sometimes included in divorce agreements for couples who were married for many years
- If there is a past-due balance on the order
- If the spousal support was a lump-sum package
If remarrying will have a detrimental effect on your socioeconomic status due to the cessation of spousal support payments, it should be an important part of the decision to enter into a second marriage.
Second Marriages Have a Higher Divorce Rate Than First Marriages
Before remarrying, it’s worth taking the time to consider how the statistical reality of higher divorce rates for second marriages relates to your new relationship. While the divorce rate for first marriages is currently between 35% and 50%, for second marriages, the divorce rate is as high as an estimated 60% according to most sources. A second marriage may come with greater challenges due to:
- Some relationships may begin too soon after a divorce and are rebound-based relationships that may not hold up to the realities of marriage
- The additional stress associated with blending families when one or both spouses have children and may have different parenting styles
- After a first divorce, many people experience increased independence which makes them less likely to remain in an unhappy marriage
- People who experienced the trauma of a bad marriage and divorce may carry emotional baggage into a second marriage
The good news is … second marriages that don’t fail are far more likely to be emotionally satisfying to both partners than their first marriages since many divorced spouses learn from their previous mistakes and make wiser choices the second time around. You can always reach out to a San Francisco family law attorney to clarify any questions you may have about remarrying.