Can’t wait to share the news about your new romance?  My advice is to share your happy news with a supportive friend.  Based on my work with over 15,000 families, I can tell you that your adult children will likely be less than thrilled with the news!

A common objection to a parent’s remarriage is that the divorce rate for those in second (or third or fourth…) marriages exceeds 60%!

Second marriages have special complications that require thoughtful planning.  A few tips to consider:


  1. Prenuptial Agreements  Hammering out the legal and financial issues ahead of time can prevent much costly legal wrangling later.  Beyond establishing who gets what in the event of death or divorce, prenuptial agreements are increasingly being used to address issues within the marriage.  To ensure that the PreNup won’t be tossed out, don’t sign it immediately before the wedding and make sure that both parties have their own attorneys!


  1. Estate Planning for a Second Marriage Even if a couple beats the divorce odds, the marriage will end- at death. The competing interests here are typically one’s adult children and the new spouse.  There is an expectation that assets accumulated in the first marriage, such as the primary residence, will go to the children of that marriage. On the other hand, the new spouse will want to have secure future living arrangements in the event that he or she is widowed.   How can people prevent ‘blended family warfare’?


A good solution is to grant the surviving spouse a ‘Right of Occupancy’ in the house. This can be done within a will or trust and gives the survivor the right to reside in the home until “the earlier of her death, voluntary vacatur, or a fixed number of years.  To avoid “blended family warfare” though, the planning documents should very clearly spell out who is responsible for what expenses.


  1. Advance Directives–    Decide in advance, who should make medical and financial decisions for you in the event of future incapacity.  This will prevent a shouting match in a hospital corridor between you children and significant other.


The bottom line is that putting things in writing is preferable to a simple discussion.  A written document guards against faulty recollections and differing expectations.