Special Complications That Can Arise in a Second Divorce

Ending a second marriage typically involves more complex circumstances than in a first divorce. There may be more extensive property interests and support arrangements that need to be covered in a divorce settlement or decree. The provisions of the divorce can also affect estate planning decisions. Being aware of these possible complications can be of great help in resolving a second divorce effectively and productively.

Second marriages often create blended families. The spouses typically have children from a previous relationship. Either spouse may become a stepparent and may develop a close relationship with the stepchild. Unless the stepparent has adopted the child, he or she has no inherent parental rights upon divorce. As such, getting custody or visitation rights requires a strong showing that it is in the child’s best interests.

Things can get even more complicated when spouses in a second marriage have children together and there are also stepchildren. An ex-spouse will usually have parental rights over their biological children but not the stepchildren. If the stepchildren split time with the other parent from the first marriage, there will be two custody and visitation plans to implement.

A second divorce also can have significant financial implications. If a spouse has existing child support or spousal support obligations in effect from their first marriage, these must be taken into account in any support orders issued in the second divorce, since they have direct bearing on that spouse’s ability to pay. The former spouse from the first marriage may even have a claim or ownership interest in the property being divided in the second divorce. Also, since people in second marriages tend to be older and to have more assets, property distribution is usually more complex, often involving retirements accounts and diverse investment portfolios.

Estate planning can also substantially be affected by a second divorce. In most cases, a parent wants their biological children from both marriages to inherit their property. Sometimes, a spouse may wish that stepchildren from the second marriage also inherit assets. This can create confusion unless the specific rights of all children are precisely defined in the will or trust. It is thus critically important to review all estate planning documents incident to the second divorce.

The one thing that can ease the difficulties of a second divorce is that you are coming to it with experience. This perspective can help you focus on the most important objectives and how to achieve them. People going through a marriage breakup the second time are more likely to see the value of pursuing negotiated resolutions of disagreements, sometimes through mediation.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona represents people throughout Maricopa County in all aspects of divorce proceedings. Contact us online or call us at 602-789-3497 for a consultation.