Remarrying – Why You Should Plan More Than Just the Wedding

Posted on: 7 mins read
Last updated:
Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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In 2021 Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton got married after around 5 years together. This will be Gwen’s second marriage and Blake’s third marriage, which just goes to show that there can be life after divorce and that there is always time to start a new chapter.

From our experience of working with many clients who are considering remarriage or a new relationship after divorce, we know that there is always a possibility of starting a new chapter. Seeing clients recover from a divorce and move forward positively is one of the nicest aspects of the work we do.

What we do see is that while they are excited to start a new chapter in their lives, many people entering a second marriage also want to put safeguards in place to make it easier if anything was to go wrong, and to implement what they learnt from their experience of divorce.

If you’re marrying again, your concerns might be:

  • How to protect the assets you retained from your first marriage
  • Avoiding any more arguments over finances if your relationship were to fail
  • Blending different families and commitments, where children are involved

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When Can I Remarry?

As soon as you have received your Decree Absolute that confirms your divorce, you are allowed to remarry immediately. Under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, there is no time frame that you are required to wait before remarrying.

For example, you can remarry the same day as your divorce from a previous marriage is finalised.

Although, we suggest making sure that your divorce has been finalised before attempting to marry again. It’s against the law to marry someone if your previous marriage hasn’t yet been legally declared as over.

 

Planning for the Future

Resolve Outstanding Issues

If there are any loose ends from your previous marriage, we advise resolving these now rather than in the future. Depending on the issue, remarrying may even prevent you from resolving certain issues.

Most separated couples decide on their financial and child arrangements but then one of them remarrying can cause conflict that leads to the other person challenging those agreements.

In some circumstances, your ex-partner may be able to apply to the Court to gain information about your new partner’s financial status, if they believe it has altered your household income. Your new partner may not appreciate their financial status being disclosed.

It’s important to seek legal advice before you remarry. Here at Simpson Millar, we’ll look at your unique situation and offer advice prior to your marriage to make sure that your previous divorce doesn’t impact it negatively.

 

Prenups and Postnups

While it can be considered unromantic to enter into a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement, it's important to consider how marriage will change your legal status and what you can do to plan for the future.

It’s natural not to think about planning for the breakdown of your marriage when you are planning a wedding and about to embark on a new adventure with your partner, but having a plan in place can give you peace of mind, especially where children are involved.

If you’ve left an earlier relationship with a divorce settlement designed to give you and your children financial security, it’s important that you know it will not be lost in the future. A pre or postnuptial agreement can help to do that.

Prenup Agreement

If you want a prenup, the agreement must be made before you enter a marriage. This is often easier because dividing assets can usually become mingled together once a couple gets married, after which it can be difficult to separate them.

When you’re writing a prenup, you will set out your individual assets as it stands at the time of your engagement. It will outline how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, which will include your money, property, and any investments you may have.

Postnup Agreement

As the name suggests, a postnup agreement is a legal contract that is done after a marriage has started. Other than that, a postnup is the same agreement as a prenup. Both parties will sign the contract, agreeing with the way that their individual assets have been divided.

Of course, an agreement might not be right or necessary for everyone, but it's worth looking at whether it could be right for you. It’s worth noting that prenup and postnups are not legally enforceable in the UK. While they do provide a strong foundation for how to negotiate during the settlement after a divorce, it can only be considered by the Court to use it as evidence if there’s a dispute.

 

Updating Your Will

Inheritance is another issue to consider when looking at remarriage. Marriage changes who can, and will, inherit as a matter of law. If you want to make sure your existing family are protected, be it children or other family members, it can be important to have a valid Will made that means your Estate won’t just be divided by the Rules of Intestacy because of your new marriage.

It's important to note that if you do remarry, then you should update your Will. This is because your existing Will is revoked once you enter a new marriage, and it won’t be taken into consideration in the event of your death.

 

Blending Your Families

Gwen has three sons from her first marriage, but Blake doesn’t have any of his own children. Gwen and Blake have formed a new family unit and Blake has taken on the role of stepfather. It’s reported that Blake said during a radio appearance, “There’s definitely nothing easy about it. I don’t know if it’s as hard, or harder or not as hard as being an actual biological parent.”

Becoming a stepparent can be a difficult transition, whether or not you have children of your own. And this can create some challenging dynamics and bring up issues that need to be worked through as everyone gets used to the new situation.

Our Family Law team often work with parents and stepparents to help with issues such as:

  • Difficulties managing child arrangements with ex-partners
  • Co-parenting
  • Dealing with who has parental responsibility
  • And sometimes stepparent adoption

Some couples who are marrying later in life or following earlier marriages also want to look at ways to build their family together, whether through having children of their own, adoption, or surrogacy.

Blending family units can be the foundation for many years of joy and fulfilment, but there is never any harm in researching and preparing for any possible bumps in the road. As well as legal advice, there are lots of useful resources online, especially for stepfamilies.

 

How Remarrying May Affect Benefits

If you receive Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, or Pension Credit, these may be affected if you remarry, along with any other means tested benefits.

When you remarry, you should contact the office that is responsible for paying your benefits, as soon as possible.

Benefits that are means tested will include your new partners income as part of your assessment. Depending on your new household income, your benefits may increase or decrease. You may lose some of your benefits altogether.

 

State Pension

Under the new State Pension, you usually can’t use your ex-partner’s National Insurance record. But if you reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016, you would continue to be paid the State Pension under the old system.

 

What are the Intestacy Laws?

Under Intestacy Laws, if someone passes away and is married at the time, the surviving partner will receive the first initial £322,000 of the estate. The rest of the estate is then divided equally between the partner and the children of who passed away.

If any children are below the age of 18, then their shares will be put into a trust until their 18th birthday.

If the person passes away and doesn’t have any surviving children, their entire estate will then be given to their surviving partner.

The Intestacy Laws are very inflexible, and they simply don’t reflect modern life. For this reason, if you do intend to remarry, you must seek legal advice to make sure that your partner and any children from a previous marriage will be looked after.

 

Contact Us for Pre-Marriage Legal Advice Today

If you’re planning to remarry, we recommend getting your affairs in order beforehand. Our expert solicitors are experienced in complex cases and helping people to protect their finances and making agreements as watertight as they can be.

We’ll listen to the details of your situation and offer advice based on your circumstances. We’ll make sure that you can enter your new marriage with peace of mind, knowing that you’re in the best possible situation when it comes to finances and child arrangements.

Whether you’re concerned about how your new marriage may affect your finances, children from a previous marriage, benefits, or something else altogether, we can offer the legal advice you need.

Contact our Family Law Solicitors today to arrange a free consultation to see how we can help.

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References

Ageuk.org.uk. (2018). The new State Pension | Pensions | Age UK. [online] Available at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/pensions/state-pension/new-state-pension/

Age UK. (n.d.). Financial and legal considerations before remarrying. [online] Available at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/relationships-family/financial-legal-tips-before-remarrying/

Legislation.gov.uk. (2020). Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/11/section/1/enacted

Citizensadvice.org.uk. (2019). Who can inherit if there is no will – the rules of intestacy. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/death-and-wills/who-can-inherit-if-there-is-no-will-the-rules-of-intestacy/

Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

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