Guide to Remarrying after Divorce

For some divorced people, remarriage can feel like the fresh start of their dreams. However, navigating a new marriage can come with its fair share of questions and sticky situations. Before you say “I do” a second time, arm yourself with information about second marriages so you go into this marriage prepared and ready for anything.

When can I remarry after divorce?

Depending on your situation, you may feel ready to move on immediately after your divorce is finalized. In most states, you have the right to enter a new marriage the same day your divorce is finalized. 

However, eight states and Washington, D.C. have a mandatory waiting period that prevents you from entering into a second marriage immediately after your first one ends.

States with a mandatory waiting period between divorce and remarriage

  • Alabama: There is a 60-day waiting period, although a marriage before that time frame in another state would be recognized by Alabama.
  • Kansas: There is a 30-day waiting period as of June 30, 1983, although the waiting period may be waived if both spouses agree to it.
  • Massachusetts: There is a 90-day period after a divorce decree is granted where marriage is not permitted. A Massachusetts divorce decree is considered a decree nisi (a court order that does not go immediately into effect) in that state.
  • Nebraska: There is a six-month waiting period unless the divorced parties are remarrying each other.
  • Oklahoma: Although a six-month waiting period is stated, a remarriage within the state before that would be valid unless it was “set aside.”
  • Rhode Island: A divorce decree in Rhode Island becomes valid after a three-month waiting period, at which time the ex-spouses are free to remarry
  • Texas: There is a 30-day waiting period as of January 1, 1974.
  • Washington, D.C.: There is a 30-day post-divorce period during which the divorce decree may be appealed. Remarriage is permissible after that period but not before.
  • Wisconsin: A six-month waiting period is established by each divorce decree.

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a table with all of the above information. Click to view the SSA Summary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage.

How long should I date a new partner before marrying a second time?

Many people decide they are ready to start dating again within a year of their divorce. However, there’s a big difference between casually dating and deciding to get married again after divorce.

Studies show that couples who date for at least one year before deciding to get married are 20% less likely to later get divorced. However, people who date for at least three years before marriage have the best chances of marital bliss, as this longer dating period reduces their chance of divorce by 50%. 

Now, you may not want to wait three years before remarrying, and that’s okay. But there’s something to be said for waiting at least one year before planning a wedding. Also, you should always verify that both you and your new partner are fully over your previous marriages before deciding to tie the knot again.

What are the benefits of remarrying after divorce?

Divorced people typically remarry because they fall in love again and want to commit themselves to the person they have fallen for. However, happiness isn’t the only benefit of remarriage. 

Health benefits of remarriage

It has been proposed that remarriage offers benefits to a person’s health and well-being that they would not otherwise realize. A study on bereavement and remarriage in older adults confirmed this with statistical significance. People who remarry are less likely to develop chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. They are also more likely to remain physically active, which can help avoid mobility limitations in the aging process. 

Tax benefits and other rights

Of course, any marriage, whether it is your first marriage or your second one, can provide you with tax benefits and other legal rights that unmarried couples aren’t eligible for. This can be a benefit of remarriage after divorce for those accustomed to the legal benefits of marriage.

Reasons to delay remarrying after divorce

Although marriage brings many benefits, there may be reasons to wait before remarrying. If you are thinking about remarriage, consider these possibilities first.

Loss of alimony

In some situations, a new marriage could affect your finances. How?

If you are receiving alimony from your ex and decide to marry someone else, your alimony payments are likely to end. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get remarried, but you should consider the financial ramifications. 

For example, if the alimony you now receive is for a limited time only – and you need that money to get back on your feet, whether for going back to school or some other reason – it may make sense to put off the wedding until the alimony term has ended.

If the alimony was “permanent” (or long-term), you will no longer receive that benefit if you remarry. Figure out how you would make up for that lost income if you were to remarry. For example, you might be able to rely on your new spouse for the financial support you were getting from your ex. Or, you might have found another way to generate an income stream.

Since each case is unique, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney to learn how any plans for remarriage would impact your alimony payments.

Loss of ex’s Social Security benefits

If you marry someone new and your ex is still living, you will no longer be eligible to receive their Social Security benefits. However, if your ex has died and you have been receiving survivor’s benefits, you would still retain those after a remarriage.

What about widows and widowers? If you are widowed and get remarried before you turn 60, according to the Social Security Administration, you forfeit your right to your late spouse’s Social Security benefits. This is considered a “marriage penalty.” However, if you are 60 or older, you do not lose your late spouse’s benefits.

Child-related concerns

Getting married to someone new would likely end any alimony payments you receive, but would it end child support payments?

Not directly. Your new spouse is not expected by the government to pay for the child you share with someone else. Thus, if your ex is paying you child support, that would likely continue if you were to remarry.

However, your ex could ask for a child support modification if they saw that you gained substantial assets by remarrying. They could attempt to have the child support amount lowered in court, and depending on all circumstances, a judge may agree to it.

If your ex is paying you child support and they get remarried, they might also petition the court for a modification. For example, if they remarried and proceeded to have more children with their new spouse, they might argue in court that their pool of resources for the child they share with you has diminished, and they shouldn’t have to pay as much.

In short, if you share children with a former spouse, a second marriage may or may not impact child support payments. It’s best to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can give you legal coaching and advice regarding your state’s laws on the matter. 

Prenuptial agreement

If a significant income differential exists between you and your new partner, you may want to draw up a prenuptial agreement. Although you never want to think about your new marriage ending in divorce, it’s better to prepare for a worst-case scenario that never comes than to end up wishing you’d done something sooner.

For more information on prenuptial agreements, including the steps required to draft one, see the FAQ section at the end of this article.

Second marriage statistics and divorce rates

In 2013, the Pew Research Center found that 4 in every 10 marriages involve at least one partner who was previously married. What’s more, 42 million adults in the U.S. have been married more than once – and this rate has nearly doubled over the past 40 years. 

It’s speculated that the reasons for this increase may include the rising divorce rates since 1980 as well as an increase in life expectancy, which gives people more time to find love, marry, divorce, and then repeat the cycle (or at least part of the cycle) with another person. 

What about second-marriage divorce rates?

Although many couples who enter a second marriage are older and better prepared to handle everything that comes with marriage, that doesn’t always translate to marital bliss. Nearly 60% of all second marriages end in divorce, a rate that is significantly higher than divorces in first marriages. 

Why do second marriages often fail? Hypotheses abound and include the following:

  • People in second marriages are less likely to have children together. Thus, they are less likely to stay together for the sake of their children than people in unhappy first marriages.
  • Stepchildren, in-laws, and exes add complexity to a new marriage. A complex web of family members and exes may make it more difficult for the new relationship to develop a strong foothold.
  • People may rush into second marriages before healing completely from the grief of their first marriages. This could lead them to repeat some of the mistakes they made the first time. 

Interestingly, there is a gender gap in the rate of men versus women who remarry. According to Pew research, 64% of men who experience a divorce or widowerhood remarry, while just 52% of women in that same position decide to remarry.

Suggested: Recovering and Healing from Divorce Grief

Advice for second-marriage success

Reading the above statistics may make you feel like the deck is stacked against you. However, the fact of the matter is that second marriages can be successful. You just have to take the necessary steps to make sure it works.

To set your second marriage up for success, make sure you’ve done what you needed to heal from your divorce. Learn from the mistakes of your previous marriage so they don’t impact your relationship this time around. Learn how to manage conflict, communicate openly and honestly, and practice forgiveness to repair situations when issues arise.

You can also take steps to protect yourself and make life easier, should the marriage not pan out. You can sign a prenuptial agreement, clearly outline a division of assets, and keep your will and other legal documents up-to-date. 

Taking the time to safeguard yourself and learn lessons from your past will help you prevent your second spouse from becoming your ex-spouse.

Who is most likely to remarry after divorce?

Although many people eventually remarry after divorce, it isn’t always an equal split. Men are more likely to remarry within five years of their divorce than women. Also, caucasian men and women are more likely to remarry than men or women from other ethnic or racial backgrounds.

When it comes to economic status, people in higher income brackets are more likely to remarry than those who live at or below the poverty line. The highest number of people living at or below poverty level are divorced individuals who are not presently married at all. Also, people over the age of 35 are more likely to get remarried than those who are 34 or younger.

How does remarriage after divorce affect children?

As you can imagine, children whose parents divorce and then remarry need time to adjust to the changes in family dynamics that come with remarriage. However, most children eventually adjust to this new situation and develop a healthy relationship with their stepparents within a few years of the new marriage.

Sometimes, children feel a sense of relief when a parent remarries, especially if their previous marriage ended on very negative terms. It just depends on the family dynamics and how involved each parent is in the child’s life.

What if my church or religion prohibits remarriage?

Unfortunately, some religious denominations do not allow remarriage. However, many religions have recognized that divorce and remarriage are a fairly normal part of our modern world. 

Although most religions do not prohibit remarriage, many Christian denominations and some other religions require all couples to undergo premarital counseling before they tie the knot, regardless of whether it is their first marriage or their second. 

Suggested reading: How to Stay Connected to Your Religion and Church During Divorce

How do I plan a wedding for my second marriage?

No strict rules exist regarding what is or isn’t allowed in a second marriage ceremony. In most cases, couples opt for a relaxed ceremony the second time around, and some skip the traditional aspects of weddings altogether. 

You might decide to do any of the following as you plan your second wedding:

  • Relax some of the formalities and traditions. You don’t need to adhere to anything that doesn’t feel right to you.
  • Wear what you want and what makes you feel comfortable.
  • Create an online eRSVP to make it easier for you to know who’s coming

Also, contrary to what some may have heard, you can consider some form of wedding registry even if it is your second time down the aisle. However, you can skip the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette party if you’ve both gone through it before (unless you want to have a party to celebrate your return to married life).

When it comes to guests, don’t feel obligated to invite your ex or their family unless it makes sense for some reason. However, you will want to make sure to not leave out your children. You may want to find special ways to incorporate them into your special day so they feel included.

What if I reconcile with my ex? 

The success rate of remarrying your ex-spouse

Sometimes, a second marriage isn’t with someone new. It may end up being with your ex. This happens 10 to 15% of the time – couples reconcile and decide to tie the knot again. And although 30% of couples who reconcile end up divorcing a second time, all second marriages with an ex-spouse aren’t doomed to fail.

Going through a divorce can feel like climbing a mountain. We understand that you may be hesitant to put yourself in that potential situation again. Our best advice is to live the post-divorce life that feels most comfortable and authentic for you. It may include remarriage, and it may not. Either way, we know you’ve got this.


What is the legal process of remarriage?

The remarriage process is similar to that of any other type of marriage, but there is a large caveat: The first marriage must be completely over, legally speaking, before you are free to wed again. 

At first glance, it might seem simple: You got your divorce decree, so you’re free to marry again, right? But before you schedule the ceremony and reception, make sure your first marriage is truly over. As mentioned earlier in this blog, a handful of states impose “waiting periods” before a divorced person may remarry. Often, this is because the divorce decree, though signed and finalized, does not go into full effect until a certain period has elapsed.

For example, a divorce degree is a pro nisi agreement in Massachusetts. In other words, it does not go into effect immediately. Only after 90 days past the finalization of the decree does it fully go into effect. Thus, if you were to get divorced in Massachusetts and remarry someone new three days later, the marriage would not be valid.

If you were to get divorced in Michigan and remarry someone else three days later, however, there would (probably) be no problem with that. According to Michigan divorce law, you are free to remarry once your divorce decree is signed and finalized unless the court has prohibited you from marrying for other reasons.

How do I know I’m emotionally ready to get remarried?

Given the high divorce statistics among remarried couples, it’s wise to make sure you are truly ready for another marriage before taking the plunge. But how do you know for sure?

After you get divorced, it’s important to do some self-reflection and to allow yourself to move through the stages of grief over the loss of your first marriage. Even if you wanted to get divorced, you still must grieve the loss of a role you once held but no longer do. So, ask yourself if you have done the necessary work to heal and prepare for this new relationship.

Red flags that suggest you’re not ready for remarriage may include the following:
  • You’re still extremely angry or sad about the loss of your first spouse. You might even fantasize about getting back together with them.
  • Your new partner has unresolved feelings about their former relationship.
  • You and your new partner differ in terms of your shared values and goals.
  • Your new partner does not mesh well with your friends, family, or children.
  • Your new partner exhibits possible “deal-breaker” signs. For example, they are physically or emotionally abusive toward you or others.

Suggested: What Are Your Post-Divorce Deal-Breakers?

Should I create a prenup with my second spouse? What are the steps?

Although you never want to think about your new marriage ending in divorce, it’s better to prepare for a worst-case scenario that never comes than to end up wishing you’d done something sooner. Here are a few reasons why you might consider drafting one:

  • A significant income differential exists between you and your new partner.
  • One of you has significantly more debt than the other.
  • You have an inheritance you’d like to keep on your side of the family.
  • You own a business together.
Here are simple steps to follow if you want to create a prenup before remarrying:
  1.  Decide who to work with. You might decide to work with a lawyer to draft an agreement. This will likely cost several thousand dollars, but some people find it worth it to work in person with someone who can help them legally fine-tune the agreement.
  2.  Communicate honestly and openly. Both people need to fully understand and accept why the prenup is on the table, how the other person feels about it, and what they want from the agreement.
  3.  Share all financial information. In your prenup, each of you will need to acknowledge all property and debt. 
  4.  Negotiate terms. Talk with each other, and possibly with a third helping party, about the agreements you’d like to make.
  5.  Have it reviewed. An attorney should review your agreement to make sure it adheres to relevant laws. If your attorney approves it and you both agree, you will sign it in front of witnesses and have it notarized.

At Hello Divorce, we care about the well-being of our clients before, during, and after divorce. We love hearing about clients’ happy endings, and we welcome you to meet with us if you’re interested in our services. You can schedule a free 15-minute phone call with a compassionate account coordinator here.



Summary Of State Laws On Divorce And Remarriage. U.S. Social Security Administration.
"A Diamond is Forever" and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage. Economic Inquiry. 
Chapter 3: The Differing Demographic Profiles of First-Time Married, Remarried and Divorced Adults. Pew Research Center.
Summary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage. SSA.
Widows Waiting to Wed? (Re)Marriage and Economic Incentives in Social Security Widow Benefits.  Social Security Office of Policy.
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