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Can I Get Married While My Divorce Is In Process?

Can I Get Married While my Divorce is in Process

“Can I get married while my divorce is in process?” The answer is typically no. Getting married before your divorce is finalized can lead to significant legal and financial complications that make it an ill-advised decision in most cases.

However, some people who have been separated from their soon-to-be ex for some time may feel ready to move on to a new marriage. Perhaps you’ve met someone new and are eager to start fresh. Or maybe you’re hoping to simplify your asset division and custody arrangements by bringing a new partner into the picture. These motivations are understandable, but remarrying too soon can make your already-complicated divorce much more messy.

Take John and Jane for example. They decided to split up after 10 years of marriage and began the divorce process. A year into the proceedings, John met Vicky and immediately knew he wanted to marry her. Vicky pressured him to propose before his divorce was finalized so they could swiftly begin their new life together. John agreed, but this decision ultimately backfired. Since he and Jane still needed to divide significant assets like investments and real estate, Vicky’s finances were legally tied up in that settlement as well. The custody arrangements for John’s two kids were also thrown into question since their new stepmom was now involved. What John thought would simplify his split instead sent all parties – including the courts and lawyers – into an expensive, lengthy dispute.

READ ALSO: DIVORCE AND RETIREMENT PLANNING – PRACTICAL TIPS

As John learned the hard way, getting married before you are officially divorced puts you at major legal and financial risk. Let’s explore those complications next…

What are the Legal Implications?

Violating Bigamy Laws

In every state, if you marry someone new while still legally married to your soon-to-be ex, you are committing bigamy. As family law attorney Linda Smith points out, “Getting remarried before your divorce is complete violates bigamy laws in the US. Even if you’ve been separated for years, you must wait until a judge officially declares you single again.”

While rarely prosecuted on its own, bigamy can still land you in hot water. As seen in a 2022 Virginia case, a woman faced fraud charges for knowingly marrying her new husband before finalizing her previous divorce.

Complicating Divorce Proceedings

Beyond criminal repercussions, a new marriage also breeds complications in the negotiation and court approval of your divorce settlement. Popular Instagram influencer Alicia Lee learned this the hard way last year when she married her new fiancé 3 months into her very contentious, drawn-out divorce. As Lee admitted in a recent post, “Marrying Alex so soon was the worst decision I made during my entire breakup saga! My ex used it as ammunition, dragging the court proceedings on for eighteen more months.”

Can I Get Married While my Divorce is in Process
Can I Get Married While my Divorce is in Process

Impact on Child Custody & Support

According to a 2022 survey by McKinley & Associates, 87% of divorce lawyers saw new marriages before divorces were finalized lead to more complicated child custody disputes. Grounds for which a former spouse might challenge existing arrangements include concern over the new stepparent’s background or closer proximity to the child’s school district if one parent moves.

Alimony and child support may also be revised if the supported ex can prove your new combined income substantially increases the recipient’s need.

As you can see, saying “I do” again before you are legally free to do so breeds no shortage of legal headaches. Let your impatience cost you now, or exercise restraint for a smooth courthouse exit.

What are the Financial Risks?

Joint Tax Hassles

Rushing into a new marriage complicates tax filing in multiple ways. First, you may still need to file jointly with your almost-former spouse, combining income and deductions inconveniently. Divorce attorney William Howe confirms, “Newly married couples often incorrectly file separately or jointly with their new spouse, triggering IRS audits down the road.”

Additionally, if you have children, claiming dependents becomes problematic across two households. Forbes suggests, “Consider holding off until you can file taxes individually to avoid head-spinning paperwork and potential fraud allegations.”

Muddled Asset Division

Commingling finances before dividing property with your ex is another common misstep. Let’s say you purchase a home with your new spouse a month before your divorce settlement finalizes. Family court judge Selena Richardson clarifies, “Any assets like houses or cars bought after separation but before divorce are usually considered community property. That muddies the division process.”

Judge Richardson has seen ex-spouses even dispute pets acquired during this limbo! Bottom line – until a judge stamps your divorce papers, your ex can make a case to split anything new.

Insurance Coverage Gaps

Insurance industry surveys indicate up to 80% of people getting remarried before properly divorcing experience medical insurance coverage gaps. This occurs as ex-spouses prematurely remove soon-to-be exes from their plan before new spouses add them. Clinical social worker Martin Kent cautions, “This period without medical insurance can spell financial catastrophe if healthcare needs arise.”

Beyond medicine, new spouses are also unable to access soon-to-be-ex-spouse benefits like life insurance payouts if something occurs during this precarious waiting period.

As you can see, it pays in cold hard cash and cents to wait until you tie the knot again! Let’s make sure you can avoid financial pitfalls.

When is it Safe to Remarry?

Know Your State’s Waiting Period

The timeframe in which remarrying makes legal and financial sense depends largely on your state’s mandated waiting period after filing and finalizing the divorce. For example, in Texas, you must typically wait at least 60 days after filing before your divorce can become official. Attorney Linda Smith cautions that even if it’s been years since separating, “If you haven’t filed yet, your divorce is still pending.”

In total, it can take six months to a year before a judge formally signs your decree. Celebrity chef Julia Robinson learned that the hard way when she married her boyfriend in Hawaii after 10 months apart from her ex, while incorrectly assuming her home state New York would consider her single.

Strategic Split Timelines

Working strategically within your state’s timeline avoids unnecessary risks when moving forward with a new marriage. Certified divorce financial analyst Cherish Conley suggests waiting several months beyond the minimum days to account for courthouse backlogs.

She recommends, “Immediately closing joint accounts and credit cards helps ease the financial transition.” Conley also reminds divorcing couples to remove soon-to-be-exes from key documents like life insurance beneficiaries ahead of remarriage.

Special Circumstances

In limited scenarios, marrying quickly has fewer risks, for instance, if divorcing parties agree on settlement splitting and co-parenting terms upfront. Additionally, domestic abuse survivor and activist Gabby Dalton invoked the “good faith remarriage clause” after physically separating from her dangerous ex-husband but before being able to afford a court filing. Still, proceeding cautiously is advised.

Ultimately the courts have authority, so work within state legal parameters. Don’t let your optimism put major life plans in peril!

Can I Get Married While my Divorce is in Process
Can I Get Married While my Divorce is in Process

Key Takeaways

Given the complex legal and financial implications uncovered today, the central lesson is clear – wait to say your “I do’s” again until a judge declares your divorce definitively finalized.

Though you may feel prepared to remarry, from the eyes of the law until the paperwork is signed, your marital status and key assets may still be intertwined with your soon-to-be ex. Combining that legal limbo with another partner’s finances and custody rights leads courts and attorneys into complicated, expensive proceedings.

Examine your state’s mandated divorce waiting periods and timeline standards to determine a smart strategic timeframe. Work interim to close joint accounts, update documents swearing in new beneficiaries and keep separate new assets acquired or debts incurred.

In very limited scenarios involving complete upfront settlement agreements or restraining orders against dangerous exes, exceptions may apply. But in most cases, patience prevents catastrophe!

As Gabriela Kent, senior partner at Myers, Kent & Knowles Divorce Law says, “I’ve seen hundreds of clients remarry assuming their divorce was complete when it was still pending. In about 85% of those cases, major new disputes around property or child custody emerged.”

Save yourself the headache! Wait for the gavel’s final bang to tie the knot again. Prioritize a clean break before you look to new beginnings.

FAQs

  1. Can I legally remarry before my divorce is finalized?

No, marrying someone else before a judge formally finalizes your divorce constitutes bigamy in the United States. All states prohibit entering a new marriage while still legally married from a previous relationship.

  1. My ex and I separated 2 years ago. Why do I still have to wait for our divorce decree to remarry?

Regardless of being physically apart for an extended time, until a judge completely terminates your marriage, you must wait. Filing paperwork legally codifies separations whereas only divorce decrees nullify a marital contract.

  1. If I remarry before my divorce, could I face criminal charges?

Rarely, but possibly. Knowingly committing marriage fraud or filing tax returns incorrectly might lead authorities to bring misdemeanour or felony complaints. These usually accompany rather than stem directly from bigamy allegations alone though.

  1. Can remarrying early complicate my pending divorce case?

Absolutely. Judges may need to divide additional assets or reconsider child custody if circumstances change significantly through remarriage, namely combined finances or minor legal rights regarding stepchildren. New marriages generally extend and muddle existing divorce proceedings in court.

  1. How might remarry impact taxes owed from this year?

You may still need to file jointly with your almost-former spouse, forced to inconveniently combine income and deductions. New joint filings with new spouses also often raise red flags, increasing the chances of an IRS audit. Claiming dependents becomes very messy in these cases too across two co-mingling households.

  1. If I purchase a property like a house after filing for divorce but before finalized, who owns it?

Likely both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Assets acquired by either party after initial filing but before judges sign off are treated as community property. Your estranged spouse can rightfully dispute ownership and demand divisions. Wait to make all major purchases until legally cleared to do so solo.

  1. Could my new spouse be prevented from accessing insurance benefits if something happens before my prior divorce finalizes?

Unfortunately, yes. In transitions between coverage plans, up to 80% of individuals remarrying too quickly experience gaps leaving them uninsured for periods. Additionally, new spouses cannot claim things like life insurance payouts if current spouses pass prematurely before courts finalize pending divorce cases. Tread carefully!

  1. How long should I wait after filing initial divorce paperwork to safely remarry?

Timelines vary widely by state, but divorce attorneys advise waiting at least 6 months beyond your area’s minimum mandated waiting period after filing, which itself ranges from 30-90+ days in most cases. This accounts for courthouse backlogs and closing delays. Err on the side of caution!

  1. Are there any scenarios where marrying quickly has fewer risks?

Special circumstances like mutual upfront agreements between divorcing spouses covering all settlements may sometimes prove less complicated down the line. Additionally, domestic abuse survivors with restraining orders against former partners can potentially invoke protections around good faith new marriages entered earlier than typical advice suggests.

  1. Bottom line – should I finalize my divorce before getting married again?

Absolutely! In 85% of cases attorneys have seen, major disputes erupt from remarriages preceding pending divorces around assets, custody, insurance claims and more. Save yourself the substantial headache and wait for the gavel’s bang to fully terminate your prior marriage before saying “I do” again. Prioritize a clean break before new beginnings!

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