If you are preparing to go through a subsequent or second divorce, it is important to use your experience to your advantage. It is equally important to understand how your divorce will be different this time around. Even setting aside the unique circumstances and complexities of the relationship you are bringing to an end, there are a number of legal considerations that are specific to ending a subsequent or second marriage.
1. Distribution of Retirement Assets
Let’s start with one of the assets that is nearest and dearest to most people’s hearts: their retirement account. If you started saving during your prior marriage, your savings would have been on the table during your divorce (unless you had a prenuptial agreement that protected it). Do you remember how the distribution of your retirement account got resolved? Did your former spouse end up with a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO)? Or, did you negotiate to keep your hard-earned retirement?
While the portion of your retirement portfolio that was on the table in your prior divorce shouldn’t be at issue in your current divorce (since it would qualify as pre-marriage “separate” property), it will still be important to consider how much (if any) of your savings you can afford to lose. If you are required to split your retirement plan with one former spouse already, it could be even more important to protect the savings you accumulated during your current marriage.
2. Business Ownership and Control
Similar concerns can arise with regard to business ownership and control. If you have owned and operated the same business since your previous marriage, you will need to factor your former spouse’s stake in the business (if any) into what you are willing to give up (if anything) in your impending divorce.
3. Assuming Sole Liability for Debts
If you are carrying a substantial debt load as a result of your prior marriage (i.e. if you agreed to assume sole responsibility for various mortgages and lines of credit), this too will be something to consider as you prepare for your next divorce. How much more debt can you afford to take on, taking any child support and alimony obligations into account? If you take on sole responsibility for more debt, how will this affect your credit, and how will this impact you in the years following your divorce?
4. Financial Support (Child Support and Alimony)
Getting remarried generally results in termination of alimony for the recipient. On the other hand, if you remarried, you still owe alimony payments to your former spouse, and you are the primary wage earner in your current relationship, you could find yourself paying alimony to two former spouses. However, your outstanding spousal support obligation is relevant to determining your “ability to pay” in your current divorce, and you will want to ensure that you don’t agree to pay any more than is absolutely necessary.
Pre-existing child support obligations are relevant to determining support obligations for children from a subsequent or second divorce as well.
5. Custody and Visitation for Children from Your Current Marriage
Finally, if you have custody or visitation of children from your prior marriage and you have shared children with your current spouse, your existing parental rights and responsibilities will factor into determining what is in the “best interests” of your younger children. Depending on the circumstances involved, this can potentially cut both ways. Once you decide what you want, you will need to develop and execute a strategic plan for preserving your relationship with your children.
Are You Preparing for a Subsequent or Second Divorce in North County, CA?
For more information about filing for a subsequent or second divorce in California, please contact us to request a confidential initial case evaluation with attorney Richard M. Renkin. You can reach our North County, CA law offices by phone at 619-299-7100, or send us a message online and we will be in touch with you shortly.