Remarriage is an exciting occasion, but people will be wise to consider the effects that remarriage may have on their rights and responsibilities after divorce. Remarrying individuals may also benefit from the perspective that divorce has afforded them in protecting their assets and providing for loved ones.
Spousal Support and Remarriage
Remarriage generally will not affect child support obligations.
If an ex-spouse who receives alimony remarries, the other ex-spouse may be able to revise the alimony agreement in a few ways. First, the support agreement may directly address remarriage and whether the support amount will change or terminate altogether. Second, some state laws provide for modification or termination of alimony upon remarriage. If this is the case, the law will prescribe whether the obligation ceases automatically or the paying ex-spouse will need to ask for a court order ending their obligations. Lastly, a paying ex-spouse may be able to ask the court to revise alimony based on a substantial change in circumstances. In some cases, such as when the original agreement contains a no-change provision, it may be unlikely that spousal support would change upon remarriage. It is even less likely that a paying ex-spouse’s remarriage will affect alimony.
Parenting and Adoption After Remarriage
Remarriage on its own will not affect the status of a child’s legal parents or guardians. Of course, a parent’s new spouse may assume a parental role, but they will not be legally responsible for the child unless they adopt them. Stepparent adoption procedures vary, but generally both legal parents will need to give consent for the child’s adoption. Stepparent adoption will terminate the other parent’s rights and likely their child support obligations. Similarly, stepparent adoption is typically the only way in which a new spouse would owe child support or be entitled to visitation upon divorce.
Social Security Benefits and Remarriage
Remarriage terminates an individual’s right to receive Social Security benefits under their ex-spouse’s record. However, an individual may be able to retain survivors’ benefits after remarriage. Individuals who are eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits after their ex-spouse dies must be 60 or older to remarry without losing those benefits. There are two exceptions to this rule. First, an ex-spouse who remarries before age 60 may still be entitled to survivors’ benefits if the second marriage ends before the death of the first spouse. Second, an ex-spouse with a disability may retain their survivors’ benefits if they remarry at age 50 or older, rather than 60. At age 62, the spouse will have a choice between receiving their new spouse’s retirement benefits or their survivors’ benefits.
Prenuptial Agreements and Estate Planning in a New Marriage
Younger couples getting married for the first time may have very few valuable assets to protect with a prenuptial agreement, but couples marrying for the second time often have significant assets to protect, such as homes, retirement accounts, and businesses. People marrying for a second time may also have children for whom they would like to provide, whether during life or after death. Remarrying individuals may benefit from the insight that a divorce has given them into areas ripe for contention and draft a prenuptial agreement that addresses those issues ahead of time.
In addition to a prenuptial agreement, estate planning documents like wills, trusts, and insurance policies can help an individual take care of people outside their current marriage who are important to them, such as children from a previous marriage.