Committing to a second marriage before the first is properly completed can cause potentially serious financial complications, and it’s always best to seek legal advice before signing on the dotted line.
Planning another wedding can be an exciting distraction from the gloom and bad feelings that so often accompany divorce. The temptation to get on with that second marriage and begin a new life can be a strong one. But anyone getting married a second time without fully resolving financial claims relating to their first marriage may find that their financial rights are significantly reduced. This could mean them no longer being able to receive their share of properties – for example, the former family home. They will also be unable to apply for financial support, maintenance or make other monetary claims.
A former spouse who remarried quickly can still apply for a share of their ex-partner’s pension, but of course that will not apply until they reach retirement age.
A disheartening number of people stumble into the so-called ‘remarriage trap’ and suffer significant financial loss.
For most couples, divorce is largely bureaucratic affair, with applications made and forms completed online. This can encourage a casual, DIY approach, in which legal advice seems like a luxury extra they can just as well do without. But avoiding lawyers can be a false economy – and an expensive one at that. A solicitor will make sure you are fully aware of all your legal entitlements during divorce so you do not throw any away unnecessarily.
Separating ‘divorce’ from ‘finances’
Contrary to popular belief, the financial aspects of divorce are separate to the divorce procedure itself. Family lawyers refer to the process of reaching a settlement as ‘financial remedies’. These run alongside the divorce process, but are not always completed before the decree absolute brings the marriage to a formal end.
So how do you avoid the remarriage trap and make sure you don’t lose out financially from a second marriage? The simplest answer is: make sure the financial remedies procedure is complete before you sign that certificate. This means turning the settlement reached with your first spouse into a legally binding financial order – also known as a ‘consent order’ (because both parties have consented to the provisions). A family lawyer will help you navigate the complexities of this process.
One loophole to consider
There is a loophole that may be helpful if the planned second marriage is urgent or time-sensitive for whatever reason. If you file an application for financial remedies with the family courts before the new ceremony, you will retain the right to make financial claims against your first spouse. However, if your second husband or wife has assets and you are living a comfortable new life with them, the family courts may decide your needs are lower than they were before the second marriage and therefore you should receive less from your first spouse.
Contact an expert family lawyer to discuss your situation today!