Get Your Legal House In Order!


Divorce is an emotionally draining experience. When you finally get through everything and the papers are signed, you feel a great weight being lifted off of your shoulders. You have moved on with your life and now you've met that special someone and are thinking about marriage. Before you decide to remarry, perform a quick "legal checkup" to make sure everything is in order. With a new marriage and new life awaiting you, you should review of the following items:

If you are the custodial parent receiving child support, you need to consult with your attorney to determine if the amount you receive will be affected by your remarrying. Specifically, ask if your new spouse's income will be considered by the court should your ex seek a reduction of the amount you receive.

Many divorced or widowed seniors receive Social Security from their former spouses, and getting married again can affect the benefits you receive. If you are a widow(er) or divorced and you remarry before age 60, you will not be able to receive Social Security retirement benefits based on your deceased or divorced spouse's work record. You will still receive benefits, however, as long as you remarry after age 60. You may also be able to collect spousal benefits from a new spouse if those benefits are higher.

If you are receiving spousal support from a divorced spouse, it will end once you remarry.

You are about to get remarried. But what if your fiancé's job is transferring him or her out of state and your divorce agreement says you cannot relocate? Without consent from your former spouse, most court orders would hold you in contempt of court if you were to relocate. Your ex may seek a restraining order preventing you from leaving. However, a court may modify the agreement if it is in best interest of your children and does not interfere with financial opportunities. But before you say "I do" again -- especially when you are offered a new opportunity and face potential relocation -- seek the advice of your attorney.

If you have children, your will most likely included a guardianship clause in which you named a primary as well as an alternate person to care for and raise your child if you and your spouse passed away. But now that you are divorced, you should revisit this document and update it. Unless you physically change your will before you get married again, what is stated in that document will be enforceable as your last wishes and will remain in place even after you remarry.

Some people think that upon the death of a custodial parent, the ex-spouse automatically gets custody of the child or children. In most cases this would be correct. But, if you have strong feelings about who should raise your children upon your passing, and you state your wishes in your will, most courts will be willing to consider your appointment for another guardian before placing custody with your ex.

If you and your spouse made a trust, the assets that were originally placed in it were most likely redistributed to each of you as your separate property. But when you are contemplating remarriage, you should consider making a new trust in your name alone and transfer those assets into your trust so that they remain your separate property. By doing so, the trust would also contain language that sets out your wishes for how your assets are to be distributed upon your passing.

Getting married again can be a wonderful or even magical experience. The second time around offers you another chance at love and the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Just make sure that your new relationship doesn't fall victim to legal situations that could have been avoided by following some simple steps to ensure a hassle-free, loving, prosperous and rewarding future.

If you are going through a divorce, have gone through a divorce or another life changing event and want to make sure that you are protected and all of your documents are up to date, please feel free to contact our office. You can reach me at or by calling (626) 683 – 8113.