How Soon after Divorce Can You Remarry?
- Are you thinking of getting married again?
- What state divorce laws say about remarriage
- Which states have mandatory waiting periods?
- 5 key questions to assess your emotional preparedness
- Considering the kids
- What about alimony and child support after remarriage?
If you’ve recently divorced, it’s natural to have a lot of questions about what comes next. Some people vow to stay single for a long time after divorce. Others are ready to jump back into the dating pool as soon as they can. Still, others aren’t sure what they want.
A key question to answer before you consider remarrying is whether you are legally able to do so. In most states, there is no required waiting period between the day a person’s final divorce decree is signed and the day they remarry. But in some states, there is a waiting period … and if you live in one of those states, you need to know about it so your new marriage meets all the legal requirements.
Are you thinking of getting married again?
The divorce process isn’t easy for anyone, even under the best of circumstances. After all the paperwork has been finalized, the court hearing completed, and the ink dried, you may wonder, “When can I get married again?”
Waiting for a while to tie the knot again isn’t just wise; it may be legally required. Depending on where you live, your state may impose restrictions on how long you have to wait after divorce before getting remarried.
Time for healing
Even if a waiting period is not required by your state, you may want to wait before jumping into another relationship if for no other reason than to take time for yourself. After all, you’ve been through a lot, and it’s important to reflect on your previous marriage and heal from any lingering grief or other unresolved issues.
What divorce laws say about remarriage
As mentioned, most states today impose no restrictions on how long you must wait after receiving your final divorce decree to remarry. You have the freedom to make your own decisions about what's best for you and your family. However, a few states do require a mandatory waiting period.
Which states have mandatory waiting periods?
- If you get divorced in Nebraska or Wisconsin, you must wait six months after your divorce before entering a new marriage.
- If you get divorced in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, you must wait for 90 days after your divorce before you remarry.
- If you get divorced in Alabama, you must wait for 60 days before entering a new marriage.
- If you get divorced in Washington, D.C., Texas, or Kansas, you must wait 30 days before marrying again. However, in Kansas, the required waiting period can be waived if both former spouses agree.
Block: It is vital to understand your state’s mandatory waiting period (if it has one), and laws frequently change. If you are curious about the laws for your specific state, you can find them by visiting the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) Summary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage.
Why do these waiting periods exist?
The reasoning behind mandatory waiting periods is based on the notion that an intact family is most important and should be preserved if at all possible. Further, a “cooling off” period after divorce gives couples a chance to reconcile.
Today, however, the consensus in most states is that if a person doesn't want to be in a marriage, they shouldn't be kept in one.
5 key questions to assess emotional preparedness for remarriage
Although time for healing is important, it’s hard for some people to wait to get remarried. Others drag their feet, spending time alone when they could be with someone else because they are fearful of making a big commitment again and having it backfire.
If you’re trying to decide whether you’re emotionally ready to get married again, try asking yourself these key questions. See where your answers lead.
1. Have I finished grieving my past romantic relationships?
This could be your last marriage or another relationship in your past. If you have not moved through all of the stages of grief – fear, sadness, guilt, bargaining, anger, and acceptance – you may not have done all of the emotional work necessary to be completely available and open to a new partner.
A follow-up question to this question is, “Can I think about and speak about my past romantic relationships without feeling overcome by emotion (anger, sadness, etc.)?”
2. Have I spent time thinking about my values, goals, and priorities for the future?
A great partner question to this question is, “Have I learned from the mistakes of my previous marriage?” Even if you weren’t the one who committed the “fault” that led to your divorce (such as adultery or abuse), there are still things to learn from your marriage and divorce that could potentially make your future life better.
3. Am I able to express my feelings and needs to my partner, and am I able to listen as they express their feelings and needs?
Quality communication is key to a happy relationship. If you answered “no” to this question, it does not necessarily mean the relationship is a poor one. However, if communication is a struggle, consider premarital counseling with your intended spouse. This type of pre-marriage therapy can help set a strong foundation for the marriage, including work on important communication skills.
4. Do I trust my partner completely?
If lingering trust issues from a past relationship trouble you, they could resurface in your current relationship. If you don’t trust your partner, it could be for two reasons: they may not be trustworthy, or you may need to do more work on yourself before you feel comfortable enough to become vulnerable and trusting in marriage.
5. Am I entering this new relationship (and possible marriage) with a positive mindset?
In other words, do you feel a genuine desire to commit to this person? Some people rush into a new relationship because they want to skip over the tough feelings of divorce grief. Unfortunately, this can lead to a hasty wedding and a marital relationship that isn’t fully developed and ready for this type of commitment.
If you dive into a new relationship or even a new marriage soon after divorce, you could be short-changing yourself – and the new person in your life. A new relationship has a better chance of success if you’ve given yourself plenty of time to heal from the pain of your divorce.
Considering the kids
If you have children with your ex, they’re another valid consideration before you remarry. Kids are resilient, but they need time to adjust to their new life and living situations. Adding a new partner too hastily could end badly for everyone. A lot of divorced people who date don’t even introduce their dates to their kids until they’re sure the relationship is serious.
Your intuition may tell you that sensitivity, empathy, and ongoing support for your kids is important, especially if you plan to introduce them to a new stepparent (and, possibly, stepsiblings and other stepfamily). What do child psychologists say about it?
Researchers have suggested that children of divorced parents who later join blended families tend to function adequately. That is not to say that these kids do not experience painful thoughts and feelings related to the disruption in their family of origin.
In several studies published by the American Psychological Association, two notable factors associated with greater post-divorce well-being were identified:
- The frequency of the child’s contact with their father. Unsurprisingly, the more contact a child had with their father post-divorce, the happier that relationship was.
- The harmony of the co-parenting relationship. Again, unsurprisingly, the better the co-parenting relationship (and the less conflict between biological parents), the better the child fared.
Children of divorce tend to do well in co-parenting situations in which their divorced parents get along well with each other, function well as co-parents, and individually spend adequate time with their kids.
What about alimony and child support after remarriage?
When a divorced person who receives alimony, or spousal support, remarries, this often terminates their right to financial support from their prior spouse. If the paying spouse remarries, their alimony payments may be reduced, depending on the situation.
When a parent receiving child support remarries, their support isn't usually changed. However, a new spouse's income may play a role in how much a court decides to adjust any child support payments. The court will also consider other factors, such as additional children and whether the paying parent's income has changed.
FAQ about remarriage
I hear that second-marriage divorce rates are dismal. Is that true?
While the divorce rate for first marriages hovers close to 50%, the divorce rate is indeed even higher for second marriages at about 60%.
Of course, that does not mean that your second marriage will fail. It simply means that, on average, second marriages tend to fail a little more often than first marriages.
There are things you can do to help prevent your second marriage from failing. Ask yourself the important questions about emotional preparedness we mentioned above. Have you fully grieved your other losses? Are you ready to trust this person and become vulnerable again?
Consider enrolling yourselves in premarital counseling. Evaluate your financial situation and readiness. And, of course, make sure you meet the legal requirements, such as a fully enforceable divorce decree. (In some states, the divorce decree does not take effect immediately; there is a waiting period before the newly divorced person can legally remarry).
Who should consider a prenup before a second marriage?
Any couple could potentially benefit from having a prenuptial agreement in place before the wedding. However, some situations may seem more compelling than others for a prenup.
If one person has significantly more money or debt than the other, a prenup is definitely a valid consideration. If one person has an inheritance they’d like to keep separate from the marital estate, this is another situation where a prenup is often considered. And, if a couple owns a business together, it is wise to make important decisions ahead of time, such as what would happen to the business if the marriage were to end.
It may feel a bit disconcerting to spend time and money on a prenup during the flurry of excitement surrounding an upcoming wedding. Thankfully, it is also possible to set up a postnuptial agreement after the wedding. Read our Guide to Postnuptial Agreements and Sample Postnup for more information.
To create a prenup, you would need to negotiate the terms of the agreement with your intended spouse. Full disclosure of all personal assets is necessary to create a valid prenup. Many people decide to work with an attorney or at least have an attorney review their prenup before signing it and making it official.
Suggested: Divorce with a Prenuptial Agreement
How does remarriage affect alimony and child support payments?
If an alimony recipient remarries, their alimony payments would likely end. The reasoning behind this is that the spouse-in-need has a new partner now, and the new couple can figure out their own finances.
If a child support recipient remarries, however, their child support payments are not as likely to end. The reasoning behind this is that the new spouse should not be expected to pick up the slack for the child’s other parent. Both biological parents remain responsible for a child’s financial care regardless of whether either person remarries.
If concerns about a loss of alimony or child support are causing you to put off marriage, and you’d like advice, consider booking 30 minutes or an hour of legal coaching with Hello Divorce. An attorney can advise you on your rights and the potential scenarios that might occur in the event of your remarriage.
If you know you want help from Hello Divorce but aren’t sure if you’d do better with legal advice, a session with a certified divorce financial analyst, or another service we offer, we’re here to answer your questions. Feel free to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with a friendly account coordinator by viewing our calendar here.
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ReferencesSummary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage. Social Security Administration.
Distress among young adults from divorced families. PubMed National Library of Medicine.
Postdivorce living arrangements, parent conflict, and long-term physical health correlates for children of divorce. PubMed National Library of Medicine.
How Common Is Divorce, and What Are the Reasons? YourDivorceQuestions.org.
Wortman, J., & Lucas, R. E. (2016). Spousal similarity in life satisfaction before and after divorce. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Women in Very Low Quality Marriages Gain Life Satisfaction Following Divorce. (2015). Journal of Family Psychology.