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How Does Remarriage Affect Divorce?

Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, & Taus, P.C. May 30, 2022

Couple Arguing Before a GavelEven in the most amicable of divorces, sorting out the details of agreements regarding alimony, child support, and child custody can be exhausting and contentious. What happens to these agreements if you or your ex-spouse remarries? The short answer is that it depends on your specific situation. At Schwartz, Hann, Olsen, and Taus, P.C., we have been helping clients like you figure out how remarriage affects divorce agreements. If you or your ex-spouse is considering remarriage, talk to us to explore your options. We proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey, including clients in Middlesex, Somerset, Bergen, Morris, Passaic, and Essex counties.

How Does Remarriage Affect Alimony?

There are four types of alimony, also referred to as “spousal support,” awarded in a New Jersey divorce.

  1. Limited duration provides support to a spouse for a specific period of time to help that spouse recover from the economic hardships often created by divorce.

  2. Reimbursement is an ordered sum paid to a spouse who supported the other spouse’s education or career which allowed that spouse to achieve higher earning power.

  3. Rehabilitative support provides compensation to a spouse while that spouse receives the additional education, training, or time to become self-sufficient.

  4. Permanent alimony is awarded to a spouse who is likely unable to rejoin the workforce due to a long-term marriage where that spouse stayed home to raise children or remained in the homemaker role. This may also be awarded to a disabled spouse.

The issue of remarriage and alimony can be complicated. Although remarriage will not affect reimbursement alimony or rehabilitative alimony, it could affect limited duration and permanent alimony. In most cases, unless the spouses had an agreement to continue alimony regardless of the recipient spouse’s marital status post-divorce, this alimony is terminated if the recipient spouse remarries or is joined in a civil union. It might also be terminated if the payer spouse can provide evidence that the recipient spouse’s cohabitation arrangement eliminates the need for spousal support.

Remarriage does not necessarily herald the termination of alimony. There can be circumstances that persuade the court to order continuation of spousal support even after the recipient spouse remarries.

How Does Remarriage Affect
Child Support Agreements?

Remarriage does not in and of itself affect an existing child support order from the prior marriage. Child support is awarded for the benefit of the child, not the parents. The payer’s obligation to provide financial support for their child does not end when the other parent remarries.

That said, remarriage is a change in material circumstances of the parents and might be the same for the child. The new spouse may have the financial means to provide significant enough support that could warrant a reduction in the paying parent’s financial obligation. Keep in mind that the new spouse is not required to provide financial support for a child that is not that spouse’s biological or adopted child. However, even the fact that the new spouse is helping to pay for the child’s primary residence could warrant a reduction in the current support ordered.

If the paying spouse remarries and has a child with the new spouse, that can also warrant a reduction in the sum required to support the child from the prior marriage. That is because the child of the new union is as entitled to financial support as the child from the prior one.

Finally, child support may be an issue if the child custody arrangement is modified after the remarriage of a parent. A modification of the child custody arrangement could warrant a change in the child support agreement.

How Does Remarriage Affect
Child Custody Agreements?

A remarriage, particularly of the custodial parent, can be as disruptive to the child as the divorce likely was. Bringing a new person into the child’s life significantly alters their relationship with both parents.

If, for example, the child does not get along with the new spouse of the custodial parent and the child begins to exhibit behavioral problems, the court may decide it is in the child’s best interest to live with the other parent instead. That change in the custody agreement would also impact the existing child support agreement.

Similarly, if the non-custodial parent remarries and has a child with the new spouse or marries someone with children and the subject child does not get along with the parent’s new family, the court could modify the existing parenting plan if it believes it is in the child’s best interests to do so. 

Seek Legal Guidance from a Family Law Attorney

Parents are, of course, entitled to build a life after divorce. However, when rebuilding includes remarriage, those hard-fought agreements forged in divorce may be ripe for modification or termination.

It is a wise decision to seek legal guidance from a New Jersey family law attorney when you or your ex-spouse is considering remarriage. An experienced attorney can anticipate how your existing alimony, child support, and child custody agreements may be altered. That way, you can be prepared to pursue or defend against subsequent actions to modify divorce agreements.

For decades, our family law and divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, and Taus, P.C. have been helping clients anticipate and respond to changes precipitated by remarriage after divorce. If you’re located in the New Jersey areas of Somerset, Morris, Passaic, Essex, and Bergen Counties, or anywhere else in the state, reach out to us for a consultation.