After a divorce, should I get a prenup for my second marriage?

It is a tragic situation when a married person suffers the death of a spouse due to illness or accident. However, it is also a common scenario for Massachusetts residents that divorce separates two people who legally bound themselves together. Whether a marriage ends from death or divorce, a previously married individual may find herself later considering marriage for a second time.

Even though a divorce or death terminates a prior marriage, there can be many factors from that first marriage that carry over into a second marriage. Primarily, any children born of a first marriage may have inheritance rights from their parents. A second marriage may pre-empt children from inheriting from a parent if a second spouse gets ahead of them in the line of succession prior to the death of the parent.

Additionally, a person contemplating a second marriage – or their soon-to-be spouse – may carry a significant amount of debt. Just as some property is considered marital property, so too can some debt be considered marital debt. The debts and liabilities of one person’s former relationship can affect the financial health of a person when he enters into a second marriage.

Because these financial matters are so important, some people who choose to marry for a second time decide to execute prenuptial agreements. Even if they did not have prenups for their first marriages, they elect to use them the second time around in order to protect their interests, their children’s interests, and their wealth accrued from prior relationships. A prenuptial agreement, through its contractual formatting, allows a couple to make important decisions about their finances before they are married in order to preserve their rights after their unions are confirmed.

The end of a marriage can be a tragic time, but many people whose marriages end endeavor to start over in new marital relationships. The death or divorce legal issues that follow a person into his new life can be addressed through prenuptial agreements. Individuals with lingering questions about second marriage prenups may choose to speak with their legal representatives about the utility of such agreements for their lives.

Understanding the timeline for divorce finalization

Previous posts on this Massachusetts family law blog have discussed the different grounds on which an in-state divorce may be based. In many instances, a divorce is based on fault, generally assigning blame for the end of the marriage to one of the parties to the marital dissolution. A divorce may also be without fault and relatively amicable for the parties.

Regardless of whether fault is involved in a divorce, the involved parties can be anxious to know when their marriage is truly over. The finalization of a divorce depends upon how it was categorized. The Massachusetts Court System has different timelines for when divorces are truly completed.

If a divorce is classified as 1A, or generally when the divorce and its applicable negotiations are uncontested by the parties, then the divorce will end 120 days after the entry of the divorce judgment. If a divorce is classified as 1B, meaning generally that the parties do not contest the divorce but that they do disagree about divorce-related matters such as custody, property division, and support, then the end of the marriage does not occur until 90 days after the hearing if a judgment is entered in the matter. Fault-based contested divorces can follow different timelines.

The several months that a couple must wait before its divorce is finalized is called a divorce nisi. During that time, neither spouse may remarry as the marriage subject to the divorce is not technically dissolved. Once the divorce nisi ends, then the marriage is automatically terminated.

The divorce nisi phase gives couples a chance to continue their marriages if they have a change of heart. This does not happen in all cases, and for most the wait is simply the final step in getting to the end of a marriage. More specific questions about individual divorce timelines may be addressed by attorneys who work in the divorce and family law fields of practice.

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