Second Marriages and the Law

If you have already been married and are embarking on a second or subsequent marriage then there are important legal points that you should consider.

The circumstances around a second marriage are almost always more complicated than the first. There are often children from previous relationships to consider as well as assets you have acquired including property, savings, investments, pensions and businesses.

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Having gone through a divorce, you will be aware that relationships can breakdown. You will also appreciate how stressful and painful the divorce process has the potential to be, in particular when it comes to sorting out finances and assets.

Understandably you will therefore want to do all you can to avoid this stress and ensure that you are fully protected in the event of another divorce. The financial implications of a second divorce can be severe and need to be considered by both parties.

Discussing your options and making plans together with your future spouse in advance of marriage can start a healthy dialogue around seemingly sensitive areas and protect both your interests. This pre-planning for all eventualities is a sensible and practical process – it is not unromantic or pessimistic, nor a comment on how you view your relationship but about providing security and looking after those who you care about.

Marrying again will often require you to make difficult emotional, financial and legal decisions. We use our experience in this area to help guide you through the decision-making process around remarriage.

couple in second marriage

How Remarriages Are Different

Remarriages are different to first marriages in a number of ways. The following, although they do not apply in all circumstances, serve as an overview:

Personal:

  • You are aware that relationships can breakdown – the way you approach a second marriage can be affected by this knowledge
  • You have been through the stress and pain of a divorce before
  • You are older and may be thinking more about planning for and safe-guarding your future including being able to afford a place to live and your retirement – with remarriages happening later in life, a divorce in your fifties or sixties could have an impact on your retirement plans
  • You may have children from previous relationships to consider in terms of your assets and their inheritance

Legal:

  • Finances & Assets – you have probably acquired more assets over time including property, business, pensions, investments and even money from a divorce settlement. Maintenance from any previous divorce also ceases with a new marriage.
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements – many couples embarking on second marriages wish to get a pre-nup in place to protect both of their interests
  • Children and Inheritance – remarriage has several implications on how your assets are passed on in the event of your death, in particular to your children
  • Wills & Trusts – you will need to create a new Will. It may be appropriate to set up a Trust or Trusts to ensure your wishes will be realised in the event of your death. Many people want to provide for their new spouse and children from a previous marriage

Second Marriages and Pre-Nuptial Agreements

What is a Pre-Nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a written contract that is signed before a couple get married. It is designed to set out what a couple would like to happen to their assets and possessions should the marriage breakdown. Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding but when drafted fairly and properly are seen as influential by the courts and are often upheld by judges. There are circumstances such as the birth of a child and any illness or disability befalling one partner that will see a judge deviate from the pre-nup terms, and in many cases, the terms will be varied or cease to have effect after the marriage has lasted for a stated period or periods of time.

Should I consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement for a Second Marriage?

Having already been through a divorce, you will be aware of how difficult the process can be. One of the hardest parts is sorting out assets. As we have mentioned, the circumstances around second marriages are all the more complicated as you may have children and acquired more assets.

Most people remarrying are more realistic about the possibility of the relationship coming to an end. In turn they are more aware of the importance of agreeing mutually satisfactory terms in order to provide security for any children and avoid being left with nothing if the marriage breaks down.

When embarking on a second marriage, there will often be one party that is better off. In these circumstances a pre-nuptial agreement has the potential to protect the assets of the wealthier party and a chance for the less well off party to indicate that they are not in it for financial reward.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Mediation and Collaborative Law

Mediation, and collaborative law are good options to help couples cover off all the more delicate points around a marriage, including agreeing upon pre-nup terms. In mediation, you can talk openly with your partner along with a trained neutral mediator to reach amicable outcomes. In collaborative law, you and your partner each appoint a collaborative lawyer and you all work together, primarily at meetings attended by the parties and the lawyers, to discuss and agree the terms of the pre-nup.

Speak to one of Burt Brill & Cardens solicitors about a pre-nuptial agreement today – call 01273 604123.

grandad with grandaughter brighton

Second Marriages and Inheritance

Inheritance can be a complicated matter that needs to be considered when embarking on a second marriage. If you die then your assets will automatically pass to your surviving spouse. This brings up complications especially when you have children from a previous relationship.

Children

If you have children from a previous marriage, you will almost certainly want them to receive an inheritance in the event of your death. You may be surprised to realise that on remarrying, your children (and any grandchildren) may not receive any of your hard-earned assets. Ordinarily your assets will automatically pass to your new spouse and their children rather than any children you might have.

You will need to take steps to ensure your wishes are honoured with a new Will. However, again this involves making some difficult decisions when it comes to your children and assets. If you leave your estate to your surviving spouse, it automatically becomes part of their assets on your death. Legal advice is essential in ensuring your children’s inheritance is protected.

Wills & Trusts

When you remarry, any existing Will you have written will become null and void. It is therefore important to write a new Will with a solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that your wishes will be honoured. You should consider what assets you want your new spouse to receive as well as any children you may have. You can also use Trusts to help provide for both your surviving spouse and your children / beneficiaries in the event of your death.

Second Divorces

The statistics, according to the Telegraph, also highlight the importance of future-planning for all scenarios as over 40% of first marriages, over 60% of second marriages and over 70% of third marriages end in divorce. Once a second or subsequent marriage has subsisted for a number of years, the starting point for a division of the assets will be an equal one.

A Solicitor Who Can Help

Here at Burt Brill & Cardens we have been helping people plan their second marriages by offering a range of interconnected and joined-up services. These include mediation, collaborative law, pre-nuptial agreements, Trusts and Will-writing. We take time to answer any questions you and your partner may have, get to know your specific circumstances and needs, and explain all of the options to you in a relaxed environment, drawing on our many year’s of experience to reach satisfactory outcomes. Call us now on 01273 604123 to arrange an appointment.

Further Reading

The Guardian on Second Divorces

Separation & Divorce Support