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Guide to Remarriage After Divorce

For some divorced people, remarriage can feel like the fresh start of their dreams. However, navigating a new marriage can come with its fair share of questions and sticky situations. Before you say “I do” a second time, arm yourself with information about second marriages so you go into this marriage prepared and ready for anything.

When can I remarry after divorce?

Depending on your situation, you may feel ready to move on immediately after your divorce is finalized. In most states, you have the right to enter a new marriage the same day your divorce is finalized. However, eight states and Washington, D.C. have a mandatory waiting period that prevents you from entering into a second marriage immediately after your first one ends.

States with a mandatory waiting period between divorce and remarriage:

  • Alabama (60-day waiting period)
  • Kansas (30-day waiting period)
  • Massachusetts (90-day waiting period)
  • Nebraska (6-month waiting period)
  • Oklahoma (6-month waiting period)
  • Rhode Island (3-month waiting period)
  • Texas (30-day waiting period)
  • Washington, D.C. (30-day waiting period)
  • Wisconsin (6-month waiting period)

In most states, these mandatory waiting periods align with the state’s listed appeal period for couples to fight their divorce. Since these states don’t issue final divorce decrees until after the waiting period ends, your marriage is technically still legally binding. This means you are unable to remarry since most states have laws against bigamy. 

How long should I date a new partner before marrying a second time?

Many people decide they are ready to start dating again within a year of their divorce. However, there’s a big difference between casually dating and deciding to get married again after divorce.

Studies show that couples who date for at least one year before making the decision to get married are 20% less likely to later get divorced. However, people who date for at least three years before marriage have the best chances of marital bliss, as this longer dating period reduces their chance of divorce by 50%. 

Now, you may not want to wait three years before remarrying, and that’s okay. But there’s something to be said for waiting at least one year before planning that wedding. Also, you should always verify that both you and your new partner are fully over your previous marriages before making the decision to tie the knot again.

What are the benefits of remarrying after divorce?

Divorced people typically remarry because they fall in love again and want to commit themselves to the person they have fallen for. However, happiness isn’t the only benefit of remarriage. People who remarry are statistically less likely to develop chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. They are also more likely to remain physically active, which can help avoid mobility limitations in the aging process. 

Of course, any marriage, whether it is your first marriage or your second one, can provide you with tax benefits and other legal rights that unmarried couples aren’t eligible for. This can be a benefit of remarriage after divorce for those accustomed to the legal benefits of marriage.

Reasons to wait to remarry after divorce

Although marriage brings many benefits, there may be reasons to wait before remarrying. If you are thinking about remarriage, consider these possibilities first.

Loss of alimony

In some situations, a new marriage affects future payments of spousal support. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney beforehand to learn how any plans for remarriage may impact these payments.

Child-related concerns

If you share children with a former spouse, find out how a second marriage could impact child support and other legal aspects of co-parenting. Although remarriage doesn’t always affect a co-parent relationship or child support payments, there are times when it can, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Prenuptial agreement

If a significant income differential exists between you and your new partner, you may want to draw up a prenuptial agreement. Although you never want to think about your new marriage ending in divorce, it’s better to prepare for a worst-case scenario that never comes than to end up wishing you’d done something sooner.

Second marriage statistics and divorce rates

Four in every 10 marriages now involve at least one partner who was previously married. What’s more, 42 million adults in the United States have been married more than once – and this rate has nearly doubled over the past 40 years. 

Although many couples who enter a second marriage are older and better prepared to handle everything that comes with marriage, that doesn’t always translate to marital bliss. Nearly 60% of all second marriages end in divorce, a rate that is significantly higher than divorces in first marriages. 

Advice for second marriage success

Reading the above statistics may make you feel like the deck is stacked against you. However, the fact of the matter is that second marriages can be successful. You just have to take the necessary steps to make sure it works.

To set your second marriage up for success, make sure you’ve done what you needed to heal from your divorce. Learn from the mistakes of your previous marriage so they don’t impact your relationship this time around. Learn how to manage conflict, communicate openly and honestly, and practice forgiveness to repair situations when issues arise.

You can also take steps to protect yourself and make life easier, should the marriage not pan out. You can sign a prenuptial agreement, clearly outline a division of assets, and keep your will and other legal documents up-to-date. 

Taking the time to safeguard yourself and learn lessons from your past will help you prevent your second spouse from becoming your ex-spouse.

Who is most likely to remarry after divorce?

Although many people eventually remarry after divorce, it isn’t always an equal split. In fact, men are more likely to remarry within five years of their divorce than women. Also, caucasian men and women are more likely to remarry than men or women from other ethnic or racial backgrounds.

When it comes to economic status, people in higher income brackets are more likely to remarry than those who live at or below the poverty line. In fact, the highest number of people living at or below poverty level are divorced individuals who are not presently married at all. Also, people over the age of 35 are more likely to get remarried than those who are 34 or younger.

How does remarriage after divorce affect children?

As you can imagine, children whose parents divorce and then remarry need time to adjust to the changes in family dynamics that come with remarriage. However, most children eventually adjust to this new situation and develop a healthy relationship with their stepparents within a few years of the new marriage.

Sometimes, children feel a sense of relief when a parent remarries, especially if their previous marriage ended on very negative terms. It just depends on the family dynamics and how involved each parent is in the child’s life.

What if my church or religion prohibits remarriage?

Unfortunately, some religious denominations do not allow remarriage. However, many religions have recognized that divorce and remarriage are a fairly normal part of our modern world. 

Although most religions do not prohibit remarriage, many Christian denominations and some other religions require all couples to undergo premarital counseling before they tie the knot, regardless of whether it is their first marriage or their second. 

Suggested reading: How to Stay Connected to Your Religion and Church During Divorce

How do I plan a wedding for my second marriage?

No strict rules exist regarding what is or isn’t allowed in a second marriage ceremony. In most cases, couples opt for a relaxed ceremony the second time around, and some skip the traditional aspects of weddings altogether. 

You might decide to do any of the following as you plan your second wedding:

  • Relax some of the formalities and traditions. You don’t need to adhere to anything that doesn’t feel right to you.
  • Wear what you want and what makes you feel comfortable.
  • Create an online eRSVP to make it easier for you to know who’s coming

Also, contrary to what some may have heard, you can consider some form of wedding registry even if it is your second time down the aisle. However, you can skip the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette party if you’ve both gone through it before (unless you want to have a party to celebrate your return to married life).

When it comes to guests, don’t feel obligated to invite your ex or their family unless it makes sense for some reason. However, you will want to make sure to not leave out your children. In fact, you may want to find special ways to incorporate them into your special day so they feel included.

What if I reconcile with my ex? 

The success rate of remarrying your ex-spouse

Sometimes, a second marriage isn’t with someone new. It may end up being with your ex. This happens 10 to 15% of the time – couples reconcile and decide to tie the knot again. And although 30% of couples who reconcile end up divorcing a second time, all second marriages with an ex-spouse aren’t doomed to fail.

Going through a divorce can feel like climbing a mountain. We understand that you may be hesitant to put yourself in that potential situation again. Our best advice is to live the post-divorce life that feels most comfortable and authentic for you. It may include remarriage, and it may not. Either way, we know you’ve got this.