Legal issues to consider prior to a second marriage

1. Prenuptial agreements – In a second marriage, your assets may be better protected if you have a specific contract which divides up assets and debts if your marriage unfortunately fails. You may not have had a pleasant experience with the division of your property at the termination of your first marriage. Accordingly, if you are not satisfied with the way that the law divides property upon death or separation, or if you have substantial assets that you wish to protect, you may wish to enter into a prenuptial contract.

2. Child support – Generally, your new spouse’s financial resources from your second marriage won’t be taken into account when determining how much child support you should pay for your children from your previous marriage. Likewise, your new spouse’s income should not affect the amount you receive in child support. However, if you remarry and then have children with your new spouse, this may slightly decrease the amount of child support you are obligated to pay your first spouse.

3. Spousal support – There is a possibility that the spousal support you pay to your former spouse may increase as a result of your second marriage. This is because one factor in deciding spousal support is your ability to pay. Since when you remarry your household may have additional income and shared expenses, your ability to pay may increase. Also, many times there are very specific provisions in Martial Separation agreements that will terminate a person right to receive Alimony should they choose to remarry prior to the termination of the term of Alimony they were awarded.

4. Financial disclosure – There is a possibility that your former spouse may be entitled to financial information about your spouse from your second marriage in certain limited circumstances.

5. Estate planning – Your second marriage probably revokes any existing wills, unless the will is made in contemplation of your new marriage. You should have a new will drafted for you, and possibly other estate planning documents such as powers of attorney for property and personal care. It is also probably a good idea to change beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies.

6. Record keeping – You should make a list of all your assets and debts on the day of your second marriage, and gather up supporting documentation for each figure. You should keep these documents in a safe place. These documents could turn out to be vitally important in the future if you need to establish the value of an asset or debt on the date of your second marriage. Keep in mind that most financial companies now only retain documents for a limited period of time and your marriage will likely outlast there obligation to keep the document.

7. Matrimonial home – You should consider whether you wish to add your new spouse to any real estate you own as of the date of your marriage. Keep in mind that if you own a home prior to marriage and keep it entirely separate during the term of your marriage, you may be able to exclude the value of that assets from division in the unfortunate event of a divorce.