If you’re considering marrying again, then it is certain that your previous marriage(s) ended in divorce. As such, you’ve likely learned many important lessons about yourself, and your relationships. However, we have seen that despite the fact that many of our clients have married before, and have had those marriages end in a negative way, they still fail to properly plan for their subsequent marriages, meaning many avoidable mistakes are repeated again and again. Below are some tips for planning for remarriage, as tackling these tough issues in the beginning of the marriage when you are in love and closely aligned in your partnership is a lot easier than attempting to address these issues later on, when life has gotten in the way.
- Financial and living arrangements.You should discuss where you want to live, and how you will handle money. If you have financial responsibilities to spouses or children from previous marriages, you should be honest about those, and account for them in the budgeting discussion with your new spouse. If you intend to leave assets to someone other than your new spouse (such as adult children, grandchildren, or even your ex), you should account for that in your estate plan. Research has shown that a couple that buys a residence together report greater satisfaction than when one spouse moves into a residence that previously belonged to the other spouse, or was the marital home of that spouse and a previous partner.
- Resolving emotions about the previous marriage.Remarriage may resurrect old, unresolved anger and hurts from previous marriages, for both adults and children. It is important to discuss the impact that the remarriage will have on the children, even if they are adult children, as well as on the relationship with the exes. Often, amicable relationships with ex-spouses become less amicable when the ex-spouse learns of a remarriage. You should be thoughtful about how to discuss the remarriage with the children, and with your ex, and be prepared to answer difficult questions. It is advisable that you inform your ex of your remarriage directly, and do not ask the children to do so.
- Anticipating parenting changes and decisions.Couples should discuss the role the stepparent will play in raising their new spouse’s children, as well as changes in household rules that may have to be made. Even if the couple lived together before marriage, the children are likely to respond to the stepparent differently after remarriage because the stepparent has now assumed an official parental role. Be prepared for the children to be confused, reluctant, or even hostile towards the new stepparent as they navigate their new blended family. Give the children age-appropriate and specific information about how things will be after the remarriage, including details that affect children the most (like whether they will share a bedroom with new step-siblings, what holidays will look like, and how the stepparent will be involved with their school).
- Educate yourself! Remarriage has an impact on a number of factors related to previous marriages, such as alimony (most alimony terminates upon remarriage of the recipient spouse), social security, and pension benefits. It is important that you understand what impact your remarriage will have on your current financial plan, so that you can plan and account for the changes