The Impact of a Second Marriage [Updated For 2023]
The 18th Century Diarist Samuel Johnson referred to second marriage as “triumph of hope over experience”.
There is considerable evidence to show that the problems which arose during a first marriage will be carried forward into the second marriage which may explain the rise of second marriage divorces year after year. Further pressure arises as a result of continuing disputes and litigation over children and finance from the first marriage.
Typical Issues That Arise After A Second Marriage
The “Remarriage Trap”
Many former spouses retain some financial connection with each other after they have obtained a divorce as they have not formally obtained and/or applied for a financial order. However, a second marriage can have serious consequences if there are unresolved claims.
Remarriage can result in the loss of being able to apply for a lump sum, spousal maintenance or property adjustment order from a former spouse. There are a few exceptions to this rule. A spouse who has remarried may still be able to make an application for a pension sharing order and may still assert their right to a financial claim if they indicated on their divorce application/petition that they would be seeking a financial order or if they applied for a financial order before their second marriage.
Dependent Former Spouse
A dependent former spouse (typically a first wife) may seek a variation of her maintenance or capitalisation. That could arise in conjunction with a second marriage but it is commonplace at the time of a second divorce.
The 2010 case of Vaughan [EWCA Civ. 349] emphasised the importance of striking a balance between obligations to a first spouse and the freedom to enter into a fresh financial commitment with the second marriage. In summary it said that priority would not be given to one spouse over another where there had been more than one marriage.
The new child support regime is based on the gross income of the non-resident parent but deductions arise from that gross income where there are other children living in the non-resident parent’s household. That could mean children with a new wife/partner or step-children. It follows that a second marriage will inevitably lead to a review of financial obligations to the children of a first marriage.
Friction Over Children’s Educational Choices
Particular friction can arise over educational choices for children of different relationships. A non-resident father (for example) may feel that he can no longer afford to privately educate the children of his first marriage as a result of his financial obligations in his second marriage. He will not take kindly to being told that a Court is likely to favour the status quo and may regard continuity of education as a paramount concern.
A second wife may feel equally resentful if her children are obliged to attend state schools whilst the children of a first marriage are privately educated.
Things To Focus On After A Second Marriage
Re-Examine Wills and Inheritance
A second marriage is an opportune time to re-examine Wills and inheritance, particularly nominations under life insurance/death in service policies and dependency nominations under pensions.
Often these will have not been revised following the end of a first marriage and it is important to ensure a workable solution in the event of the death of a parent who has obligations to two families.
In relation to inheritance, a parent may believe or want to ensure that their children from their first marriage will be left with adequate provision from their estate when they die. However, under the rules of intestacy, if the parent dies without making a Will the estate will automatically pass on to the second spouse.
Consider the Benefits of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement
Anyone embarking on a second marriage would be wise to consider the benefits of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
We might assume that second marriages have a higher success, having learnt from the mistakes of the first marriage. It is not true and a second divorce can be far more painful than the first time round.
For advice on divorce, pre-nuptial agreements and financial provision, please contact Trainee Solicitor, Lola Ajayi at email@example.com or on 020 7940 3903 to arrange an appointment with one of our expert solicitors.
* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*
This blog was updated on January 27th, 2023.