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Does Your Ex’s Remarriage Affect You?

Once your divorce is final, you might assume your ex’s relationship status no longer affects you. However, that’s not always the case. Certain orders issued during a divorce can be affected if either spouse remarries later. 

This is more likely to affect you than you’d think. Remarriage is common across age demographics. About 70% of people who get divorced will eventually marry someone new. So what does that mean for you?

Your ex’s new marriage may work in your favor depending on your divorce settlement. However, this is not guaranteed. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of remarriage post-divorce and what you should expect after finding out your ex is remarrying. 

Why an Ex’s Remarriage Could Affect You

Marriage is a significant change to the couple’s financial and legal status. It affects everything from how they file taxes to their financial obligations toward each other. As such, it can significantly affect family court orders that were issued with someone’s single status in mind. 

Family court orders are intended to balance the needs of both parties to achieve an equitable outcome. When one person’s circumstances change significantly, those orders may no longer be necessary or may need to be increased. 

However, the specific changes you’ll experience depend can vary significantly. You need to review your settlement and divorce decree to understand how your ex’s impending nuptials will impact your divorce orders. While you’re checking these documents with your attorney, you can watch for some of the following effects:

Spousal Support and Remarriage

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is among the most contentious elements in most divorces. Couples often battle over whether alimony must be paid, how much it should be, and how long the payments will continue. Unlike child support, there are no strict guidelines on the amount of spousal support that must be paid, so these orders can vary dramatically from case to case. 

However, there is one rule that applies to most spousal support orders. According to the California Family Code (FAM § 4337), “Except as otherwise agreed by the parties in writing, the obligation of a party under an order for the support of the other party terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the other party.” In other words, if the recipient is getting married again, the paying party’s obligation to send support ends on their wedding day. The only exception is if you negotiated a different arrangement in your divorce settlement.

This is excellent news if you pay your spouse spousal support. Unless you have a written agreement promising to pay even if they get remarried, you will be released from your obligation. However, if you receive support from your spouse, they must continue to pay spousal support after getting remarried.

Child Custody and Changing Circumstances

Marrying someone new does not automatically affect child custody orders positively or negatively. Instead, the impact of the new marriage is judged on a case-by-case basis. If their new partner is a dangerous individual, the marriage may be considered grounds to petition for a modification of your custody agreement. Otherwise, a new spouse may benefit your ex’s case for custody if the marriage brings more stability to their life. 

Meanwhile, do not expect changes to their child support after getting remarried. A step-parent does not have the same legal obligation to support a child as the legal parents. As such, courts do not consider the new spouse’s income in determining the amount of support to order unless there are extreme circumstances. For example, your ex’s new spouse’s income is not considered when calculating the child support you must pay or receive. 

Retirement and Legal Relationships

In some circumstances, your retirement plans may still be tied to your ex’s behavior. For example, if your ex is eligible for a pension, you may have received the right to part of that pension in the divorce. Similarly, if you have been married for a decade or more, you may be able to apply for Social Security based on their work history. 

The problem is that both of these retirement plans are contingent on your ex continuing to work. If they get remarried and quit their job immediately, they will stop accruing their pension and paying into Social Security. As a result, your own retirement plans may need to change. 

Estate Planning and Your Ex

If you set up estate plans while married, your ex’s remarriage is a critical time to review them. Estate planning documents like wills and trusts may use general terms to describe your heirs. This can lead your individual plan to benefit your ex’s new family, even if that’s not your intention. For example, if your will names as beneficiaries all current or future children of yourself or your ex, this could be interpreted to include their children with their new spouse. 

Take the time to check your estate plan with the help of a skilled attorney to ensure issues like this do not arise. A little preparation now can protect your actual children from significant legal disputes over your estate in the future. 

Preparing for Your Ex’s Remarriage Post-Divorce

An ex’s remarriage post-divorce can affect your finances in ways you may not expect. If you’re concerned about how their impending nuptials may affect you, don’t hesitate to consult with an experienced divorce attorney like those at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP.Our skilled lawyers can help you prepare for an ex to get remarried, whether you’re just getting ready to divorce or finalized your split years ago. We can help you review your orders and take appropriate legal action to ensure a new marriage won’t harm your finances or child custody. Learn more about how our California divorce law firm can help by scheduling your consultation today.