How to Handle the Finances When You Remarry

Finances are more complicated, if this is not your first trip to the altar.

Before you enter into a second marriage after a divorce or the death of a spouse, you need to sit down and have a frank talk with your intended about money issues. Finances are more complicated, if this is not your first trip to the altar.

You might have children from the previous relationship. You might have built up a retirement account or other assets. You also do not want to find out after you say “I do” that your new spouse is drowning in debt. Here are some suggestions on how to handle the finances when you remarry.

Separate or Together

Some people throw all their money together when they marry. However, for a second marriage you might want to handle things in a different manner. Many people keep their existing accounts separate and open a new joint account for the household expenses. Each person deposits an equal amount into the account every month, and they pay the household bills and living expenses out of this account.

Communication is the Key

You are not a kid anymore. If you had a financial setback in your 20s, you had plenty of decades ahead of you to work hard and bounce back. In your subsequent marriage, you are older and wiser, but you might not know how to avoid some of the financial challenges that marriage can bring.

You should not set a date for the wedding before you both know each other’s financial picture. Many people maintain an image of affluence, by living beyond their means. You should each disclose your income and how much debt you have. Debt includes financial obligations, like being a co-signer on someone else’s lease, student loan or other debt.

You should also tell each other how much money you have in investments, retirement accounts and savings. Discuss the market value of your homes and how much it will take to pay off the mortgages.

Prenups Are for Smart People

While none of this sounds romantic, talking about these subjects can save you from a decision you will regret. Once you have both put your financial cards on the table, go to a lawyer and get a pre-nuptial agreement.

It might seem obvious that each of you will leave with what you brought into the marriage if things do not work out, but that is not what always happens in divorce court. Investing in this document can protect your future and the inheritance you plan to leave for your children.

Children and Inheritance

Make sure you address the issue of how the marriage will affect the children’s inheritance, then go to a lawyer to put it in writing. Few things will sour a person’s relationship with a stepchild, like the child thinking that the new step-parent is going to steal the child’s inheritance.

Money Mindsets

People with extremely different attitudes about money have a low likelihood of long-term happiness. If you are a person who works hard, follows a budget and saves for the future, you should not marry someone who spends every cent he makes, runs up debts and refuses to save money. Both of you will be miserable.

You should also talk about when you both expect to retire and what you want to do then. You might want to retire at full retirement age and do things that you enjoy, like traveling, volunteering and learning new skills. He might plan to work, until he falls over at his desk.

You should never enter into marriage lightly. However, when it is not your first marriage, you have more variables to address. Failing to talk about and reach agreement on the financial issues, can ruin a great relationship.

Your state might have different regulations than the general law of this article, so you should talk with an elder law attorney near you.


AARP. “4 Money Tips for Second Marriages.” (accessed January 1, 2019)

Suggested Key Terms: money management for second marriages, how to handle the finances when you remarry

About the author

Bob Brumfield

Attorney Bob Brumfield has been practicing law since 1984 and regularly receives the “Top Lawyers in California” award as well as the “Client Distinction” and “Client Champion” awards from Martindale-Hubbell.

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