According to a report by the Office for National Statistics [ONS], the age at which people are marrying continues to hit new highs, as many over the 50s are choosing to remarry following a divorce or bereavement.
While tying the knot is an exciting occasion at any time of life, there are a range of practical issues to consider if you are not doing so for the first time. Below, we discuss some of the key financial and legal implications involved if you find yourself in this position by Lucinda Holliday, head of family & divorce at Blaser Mills Law.
The impact on your will
If you are remarrying after a divorce, your will is affected in the same way as it would be if you were marrying for the first time, and will become invalidated as soon as your marriage has taken place.
You must be aware of the potential consequences of this. For example, your new spouse could inherit from you as the main Beneficiary under the Rules of Intestacy, which relate to circumstances where no valid will is in place when someone dies. If you have children from a previous relationship, this might inadvertently cause them to be disinherited, leaving them with little recourse.
Once you have details of the marriage you are entering into, it is a good idea to create a new will. You can state that the new will has been made in contemplation of the marriage, meaning it will remain valid after your marriage has taken place.
Alternatively, you may wish to wait until your marriage has taken place to write your new will, however, this could lead to a period of time where you have no legally valid will in place.
If you are entering into a new marriage and already have significant assets in your sole name that you wish to protect – as is the case with many people who have previously been married – it may be worth thinking about making a pre-nuptial agreement with your new spouse. This is a legal document that sets out what should happen to each of your assets in the event of a divorce and allows you both to safeguard your possessions.
How your State Pension is affected
The State Pension is a regular payment that most people can claim from the Government in later life. While simply living with someone in a couple without marrying will not affect your State Pension, your marital status when you reach State Pension age is fundamental to the rights you have to your spouse’s contributions.
If you were married and reached the State Pension age before 6th April 2016, you are entitled to any State Pension based on your spouse’s National Insurance contribution when claiming your own pension.
However, if you remarry before reaching State Pension age, you will not be eligible to make any claim based on your previous spouse’s contributions.
Remarrying after you reach State Pension age cannot take away your entitlement to a pension that you were entitled to draw while at State Pension age and married to your previous spouse.
In some circumstances, if you remarry when you are at or above State Pension age and your new spouse passes away, you can inherit some extra pension from them. This is the only case where a change in marital status after State Pension age can affect your pension.
The effect on other benefits
If you receive means-tested benefits [i.e. Universal Credit, Housing Benefits etc.] and marry, register a civil partnership or live with another person as a couple, you may find your benefits are impacted. This also applies if you remarry, so you should notify the office that pays your benefits as soon as possible when you plan to do so.
Your new partner’s income will be taken into account when your circumstances are assessed. As a result, you may find you are no longer entitled to receive the benefits, or the number of benefits you receive could increase or decrease – it is entirely dependent on the circumstances.
Changes to maintenance
When you remarry, even if it is not stated in the Financial Order between you and your ex-spouse, your entitlement to any spousal maintenance you were previously receiving from them will end, and this could significantly impact your income.
However, child maintenance, arranged between parents about how their children’s’ living costs will be covered when one of the parents no longer lives with the children, could be affected if you remarry, particularly if you have an informal arrangement with the children’s other parent.
If the ‘receiving parent’ who the children live with remarries, their new spouse’s income is not taken into account for any child maintenance calculations carried out by the Child Maintenance Services, as paying child maintenance is the legal obligation of the former spouse [the absentee parent]. The receiving parent’s new spouse would not legally be expected to offer financial aid for children who are not their own.
Despite this, there are a number of scenarios whereby you should report a change in circumstances to the Child Maintenance Service as the receiving parent. These include if there is a change in the number of children living with you for whom you receive child maintenance, a change in the number of times your child stays overnight with the ‘absentee parent’ on a regular basis, or if the child you receive maintenance for leaves full-time education or reaches the age of 20.
If the ‘absentee parent’, however, were to remarry someone who has children themselves, they could be entitled to pay less in maintenance for their own children given that they might be supporting their new spouse’s children financially. This means the receiving parent would have to cover more of their children’s living costs.
There are many legal and financial implications to consider before entering a new marriage. Because the implications are so wide-ranging and complicated in nature, it is wise to speak to a legal professional if you are considering getting remarried.
This will help you understand exactly what it means to remarry from a financial and legal standpoint, and why it is not something that should be entered into lightly.
Regardless of any previous marriages, it goes without saying that you will want to make your new marriage a success – though it never hurts to be prepared for all eventualities.