How Remarriage Alters Your Divorce Agreement
If your case was settled, your agreement probably took into account the possibility of remarriage. For example, if your ex is paying you maintenance and the agreement says that stops if you remarry, you can be sure your ex will comply with that part of the agreement! If your ex's lawyer forgot to put in that provision, your ex might have to go to court to be allowed to stop paying maintenance, and he might not win.
On the other hand, the law in your state might affect what happens if you remarry. For example, the law might provide that support automatically stops on remarriage. Your ex does not have to go to court to have this change made; the law has made it for him.
Can you keep your remarriage a secret? Of course you can, but that's not a good idea. Most agreements require you to notify your ex-spouse (or your lawyer, who will notify his lawyer) about a change that affects the deal. If you don't have an agreement and you're collecting maintenance, the law probably provides that it stop on remarriage. Eventually, you would have to give back the money you kept. If for some reason your case went back to a judge, your actions would work against you.
When Your Second Marriage Ends
When negotiating your settlement agreement, if you are the spouse who might pay alimony, consider adding a clause to the agreement stating that you no longer have to pay alimony if your ex-spouse remarries or dies – the latter event is important for tax purposes. As always, see a tax professional before agreeing to the terms of a divorce settlement.
What if you get divorced from your second spouse? Does your first spouse have to resume paying you? Not usually. The same applies to any benefit you gave up when you remarried. A second divorce does not bring your first spouse back into the picture, so be sure that you want to give up your entitlements before you tie the knot a second time.
Remarriage after a divorce has the most impact on the person who was the bread-winner in the first marriage. If you're the breadwinner, suddenly you're contributing to two households, not just to your former household and your own expenses. Your new spouse might resent the money that's going to your ex or your children. Also common is that your new spouse might resent the time you spend with your children or the time they spend with the two of you. These are issues to consider before remarriage.
Henry married Eleanor two years after his divorce. Henry, a real estate broker, earned enough to live comfortably on his own while giving child support to his two children. Eleanor was a nurse. Her income plus Henry's enabled them to live in a small, two-bedroom apartment in Chicago. When Eleanor and Henry had their first child, money got tight. Eleanor, who early in her marriage was very understanding of Henry supporting his kids from his first marriage, suddenly began resenting Henry for continuing the child support. She began to feel that the support money belonged to their own child. This put a tremendous strain on their relationship.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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