How Does Remarriage Affect Your Divorce?
Even after you end your marriage, it may still be possible to find love and happiness again. However, those considering remarriage after divorce need to understand how remarrying could affect their divorce matters and post-divorce obligations related to alimony, child support, or even child custody.
As a family law attorney with extensive experience, I can provide you with legal advice and help you understand the potential impact of remarriage on your divorce, whether it is you remarrying or your former spouse. My law firm, the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but I provide a broad range of family law services throughout the state, including in Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge, Red Bank, Chattanooga, and the surrounding counties of Marion, Sequatchie, and Rhea.
Impact of Remarriage on Alimony
In many states, the dependent spouse’s remarriage does not immediately end the other payor spouse’s obligation to pay spousal support. However, Tennessee is not one of those states. In Tennessee, the remarriage of the dependent spouse may automatically cause them to lose their entitlement to alimony.
If you are currently receiving alimony payments from your ex-spouse, this is something you might want to consider if you have found a new partner and are thinking about getting married. If you are the payor spouse, however, your remarriage will not affect your obligation to pay spousal support.
While the payor’s obligation to pay alimony will end as soon as the dependent spouse remarries, there are two exceptions to this rule:
Lump-sum alimony. If the parties agreed to lump-sum alimony and the payor spouse has not paid the full amount yet, their obligation to pay the agreed-upon amount is unlikely to be affected by the dependent spouse’s remarriage.
Being behind in payments. If the payor spouse is behind in alimony payments, they will still be required to pay the overdue amount up to the date of the dependent spouse’s marriage.
In rare cases, the court may order the payor to continue making alimony spouses even after the dependent spouse remarries if that spouse is unable to meet their financial needs without these payments and their new spouse is not able to secure their financial stability.
Impact of Remarriage on Child Support
Unlike alimony, child support is not automatically affected by either spouse’s remarriage. In most cases, remarriage will not directly impact the existing child support unless there has been a significant change of circumstances after either parent remarries.
If either parent wishes to modify child support before or after remarriage, they can do so by filing a petition to modify the existing order. The parent requesting changes to the existing order must prove that a reasonable cause for the proposed modification exists. Tennessee courts will usually agree to modify the existing arrangement if the difference between the current order and the proposed change is 15% or greater, which is called “a significant variance for adjustment,” according to the official website of the Tennessee State Government.
There are very few circumstances that warrant a modification of child support. These circumstances typically include:
change in either parent’s income or financial situation
an increase in the child’s needs
adjustments to the custody arrangement
a change in the number of children the payor parent must support (e.g., the payor parent has a child with their new spouse after remarriage)
Tennessee courts evaluate each request for modification on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the requested changes to the existing child support order are reasonable under the circumstances.
Impact of Remarriage on Child Custody
Remarriage does not automatically trigger changes to the existing child custody arrangement, though it can affect it indirectly. In Tennessee, all decisions regarding child custody and visitation are made by courts with the child’s best interests in mind.
In most cases, either parent’s remarriage does not adversely affect their children. However, there may be exceptions. For example, if the court has reason to believe that either parent’s new spouse poses a threat to the child’s safety or well-being (e.g., that person has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse), the court is likely to modify the existing custody arrangement if doing so is consistent with the “best interest of the child” standard.
Understand Your Options With an Attorney’s Guidance
Everyone’s situation is different, which is why the impact of remarriage on divorce may vary from one couple to another. At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I can listen to your concerns and evaluate the unique facts of your case to explain the possible outcomes. Feel free to contact my office to set up a time to talk and discuss the potential effect of remarriage on your post-divorce matters or obligations.