Planning for a second (or later) marriage

Very frequently, retirees moving to Florida are either single, or at some point, wind up single, whether through divorce or widowhood. And then they meet someone new. And sometimes the other person is formerly married as well; having been through a divorce or their own widowhood.
And they decide to get married. That’s absolutely wonderful, but you need to be aware of issues that may come up; some legal issues, and some non legal issues.

First, does either party have children by the previous marriage? If so, then they need to think about what they may owe their children versus what is owed to the new spouse. I am not suggesting that anything is necessarily owed to the children; this is your personal decision; some people take the attitude that adult children have their own life and are fully financially independent; and that’s fine; but some parents think otherwise and feel that they may owe their children something. And even if the parent doesn’t feel that they owe their children anything, to be blunt, their children may feel otherwise. And those children may be somewhat hostile towards the new spouse.
Even if you don’t have children, you need to take a moment and think about what may happen to your property in the event of a marriage. A very common scenario is where both spouses own their own house, and when they get married, one of them sells their house and moves in with the other. That actually makes a great deal of sense in most cases; but you still need to consider what may happen down the line. If the spouse whose house is being moved into should die in the near future, should the new spouse get the house? Or have the right to live there for their lifetime? Or should they have to move out? What about the money they got from their own house? Is it fair that they should both keep the money from their own house sale and keep the house of the new spouse? What if the money that bought the house of the deceased spouse came from that deceased spouses previously deceased spouse or the house came outright from the previously deceased spouse (for instance, Wife owns house, marries husband, they have children together, or wife had children from prior relationship, Wife dies, husband gets house, husband remarries, husband dies and house goes to new wife?). Is that fair?
What if you get divorced? How much is the ‘new’ spouse entitled to?
All of these things can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement which I discuss here:

Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

But my broader point is, this sort of thing needs to be thought about, talked about, prior to the marriage. And each person’s answer may be very different; as I’ve noted, not everyone thinks they owe anything to their children; and if someone doesn’t have children they may have a very different attitude towards this than someone who does have children. And, you should realize, notwithstanding a prenuptial agreement, if you give something to your new spouse, it becomes theirs. If you add their name to a deed, they now own half the property; if you put their name on an investment account or a Certificate of Deposit, they now own that money just as much as you do; even if there is a prenuptial agreement, they will likely take that property at your death or if you get divorced; a judge is likely to say that you made them a gift of that property and you can’t ‘take it back’.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from getting married, but I am saying that people need to think this through; make some plans and they may need the advice of a lawyer.

If you have questions concerning your rights upon marriage in or around The Villages, Florida, please feel free to contact my office.

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