When people go through a divorce, often the last thing they want to think about is remarriage. Bringing up the topic with a recently divorced friend may result in a laugh or the use of some strong language.
It is understandable some are reluctant to consider remarriage. However, a first divorce does not predict a divorce in a subsequent marriage. In fact, many argue in favor of trying marriage again.
Sometimes, people are simply too young when they marry the first time. Making a mistake is easy when you are “young and foolish.” A person who is older and more experienced, hopefully has better judgment and makes better decisions. Frequently, a person who marries a second time compares his or her second spouse to their first and sees that they made a significantly better choice.
Being married to a different person often results in a different experience than you had with the first spouse. It offers a chance to reset your role in relationships and learn from mistakes made in a first marriage.
When the right person enters your life, do not be afraid to commit. A spouse can be an incredibly important and supportive person in your life.
Who is Getting Remarried?
A study by the Pew Research Center found that in 2013, in four in ten new marriages at least one spouse had been married before. Further, the study found that in two in ten marriages, both spouses had been married previously.
These statistics are part of a decades long increase in the number of Americans that are remarrying. The Pew Research Center study found that currently 42 million Americans have been married more than once. That is up from 22 million in 1980. And in 1960, there were 14 million Americans that had remarried.
At least two significant demographic trends contributed to this increase in remarriages. First, a significant rise in divorce has made many more Americans potentially available for remarriage. Second, the American population is aging. This increases the number of widows and widowers that are available to remarry. Further, Americans living longer have more time to marry, divorce, and remarry. As a result, of Americans that are married today, 23% have been married before. This compares to 13% of married Americans were previously married in 1960.
Significant differences on remarriage exist between the two genders. Among men previously married, 30% say they do not want to remarry, while 65% either want to remarry or are not sure. Among women previously married, 54% say they do not want to remarry and only 43% either want to remarry or are not sure.
Remarriage patterns reflect gender differences in attitudes. Among men previously married, 64% have remarried. Among women previously married, only 52% have remarried. This gap has narrowed somewhat over time. In 1960, 48% of previously married women had remarried, and 70% of previously married men had remarried.
Younger Americans don’t share these trends. They are less likely to get remarried. In 2013, among adults aged 25 to 34, 43% had remarried. In 1960, among that same group, 75% had remarried.
Research has shown a strong correlation between marriage and financial well-being. This is also true for remarried parties, not only spouses in first marriages. Approximately 7% of remarried adults are living in poverty, contrasted with 19% of divorced adults. Median annual income of remarried adults is approximately $30,000. This is $5,000 higher than the income of divorced adults. Home ownership rates among remarried adults reflect greater home ownership, at 79% compared with divorced adults who own homes at a rate of 58%.
Steps to Consider Before Remarriage
Before remarrying, we encourage couples to meet with a qualified family law attorney. Meeting with a family law attorney can allay fears and uncertainties, and ensure outcomes occur as intended in the event of death, incapacity, or subsequent divorce.
If you are considering remarriage, a prenuptial agreement might be right for you. A prenuptial agreement address ownership and division of property each spouse owns prior to the marriage. It is an agreement entered into between the parties of the potential marriage, and is a legally binding contract upon marriage of the parties. A prenuptial agreement may also address alimony, asset and debt allocation. Unlike a will, which a party may change at any time, changes to a premarital agreement occur only where both parties agree.
Post Nuptial Agreements
Sometimes, parties don’t think about signing a prenuptial agreement until after marriage This doesn’t mean it’s too late. While a married couple cannot sign a prenuptial agreement, they can sign a post nuptial agreement. In Maryland, a post nuptial agreement covers all the same topics as a prenuptial agreement. Like prenuptial agreements, post nuptial agreements give the parties (and their extended families) peace of mind. Particularly where an inheritance may come into play, a prenuptial or post nuptial agreement might be a good fit.
Updating the Will
When a person remarries, they may wish to update their will. This allows a person to contemplate how they want their assets distributed upon their death. Do they intend their spouse to inherit? Their adult children? Updating the will close to the time of the marriage gives parties peace of mind. Unlike post nuptial and prenuptial agreements, a person may unilaterally change their will at any time for any reason. In other words, they don’t need their spouse’s approval, nor do they even need share with their spouse, their will updates.
Updating Other Personal Documents
Living wills and heath care directives also bear reviewing and updating upon remarriage. Perhaps these documents reflect choices made before your divorce. Perhaps the original person appointed is no longer the best choice. If you want your spouse to be in charge, your legal documents should be consistent with this desire.
For some families, adopting the step-children is in the family’s best interests. When a stepparent adopts, they enjoy all the rights and privileges a birth parent enjoys. This includes the right to make decisions about the child’s health care, schooling, etc. Not every family chooses this path, but for those that do, a qualified family law attorney can provide information and assistance about adoption.
If You Are Considering Remarriage
People considering remarriage are encouraged to visit with a family law attorney to make sure their best interests and desires are met. The family law attorneys at Fait & DiLima handle all aspects of family law. Contact us today.