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Second Time’s the Charm

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 11.23.44 AMSecond (third, fourth, fifth) time around marriages are on the rise and account for more than fifty percent of marriages. Many of these unions involve children on one or both sides, accumulated assets and many other issues that create a situation that is less than a clean slate.

Fortunately, with some grace, a sense of humor and a great attorney, all these issues can be worked out to create an even playing field to start the new marriage off on a good track.

Many second unions would benefit from having a pre-nuptial agreement, or at least going through the planning process that should be used to create a pre-nuptial agreement, to determine if one is needed.

In order to start off a second marriage on the right foot, it is imperative to fully disclose to each other all financial, legal, and personal history. Each spouse should disclose assets, debts, and financial history as well as alimony and child support obligations, to their partner prior to marriage. All legal history, including prior criminal infractions, driving record, insurance issues, lawsuits, pending and settled, should be “all cards on the table”. Each spouse’s prior marital history should be disclosed. When obtaining a marriage license, one must state which number marriage this is for each spouse. There should be no unpleasant surprises for either partner at the courthouse upon learning the true number of prior marriages. It is also a great idea to view your partner’s prior final divorce decree, or deceased prior spouse’s death certificate to make doubly sure that all prior marriages are in actuality, terminated in a legal manner.

When children are involved, even if grown, both partners should have an honest discussion and come to agreements and sometimes compromise regarding legal and practical issues about parenting. Are any children still being financially supported in any way? Is one partner going to adopt the other’s children? Do the children live with us or the other parent? What are our parenting styles? Adapting to a whole  new family can be the greatest source of stress in a new marriage – it is important to have open communication, patience, as well as a sense of humor to create a successful blended family.

A new marriage most definitely calls for a new or updated estate plan on the part of both partners. Florida does not allow for automatic recognition of your spouse to act for you in the event of incapacity, illness or injury (power of attorney). If you want your spouse to have this right, proper legal documents must be in place. Will your new spouse become your beneficiary, or should children be included as well? Should we have a trust? Should he trust be joint or separate? What are each other’s final wishes? If you address these issues and create your new plan prior to marriage, you will surely reduce or eliminate stress and arguments down the road or in times of crises.

Going into marriage number two with legal issues address and full disclosure made will exponentially increase your chances for a successful lifetime union! Isn’t this why you really are giving it another shot?

*blog is not intended to be specific legal advice or to create an attorney/client relationship between Chechele Law and the reader.


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