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How Does a Second Divorce Differ From the First?

Posted On June 14, 2023 In Divorce

No one enters into a marriage believing it will end in divorce, and second marriages are no different. Most people feel even more certain they’ve found their match for life in a second marriage, believing they learned from their first mistake. That’s why for most people, a second divorce can feel especially devastating. Not only are they facing the stress of divorce once again, but they may feel a level of shame and self-doubt that wasn’t present during their first divorce. Besides the emotional complications of facing a second divorce, many people discover there are additional legal complications that go along with the end of a second marriage that make it different from the first.

Complicated Financial Situations Are More Common in Second Divorces

Because second marriages typically happen later in life than first marriages, many people have accumulated more assets. A high-asset divorce can be much more complicated to navigate than an earlier divorce due to Arizona’s 50/50 marital property laws. Community property in Arizona includes all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage and apart from any separate assets belonging to each spouse before the marriage. Examples of community property in second divorces often include:

  • Real estate property including the marital home
  • Investment accounts, savings accounts, and pensions
  • Jewelry and valuables
  • Vacation property and rental properties
  • Vehicles, RVs, and campers
  • Electronics and home furnishings

Complex issues may arise when untangling separate property from community property in a second divorce with greater assets. Married couples tend to commingle assets and unknowingly transform their separate property into community property. For instance, giving a spouse access to an account makes it community property. If a spouse spends significant time and/or money improving a real estate property that belonged to the other spouse before marriage that spouse can make a claim that the property has become community property. Even property a spouse retained from their first marriage could be considered community property if it was commingled during the marriage.

Complications With Child Custody and Support in Second Divorces

A second divorce also makes matters of child and spousal support more complicated. If a spouse is already paying child support to their first spouse, it means they have less available income to pay support to a second spouse after a divorce. A second divorce could impact the parenting plan with the first ex-spouse, requiring a modification request due to changed circumstances. 

If you have children from your second marriage, you will need a second parenting plan. It can be difficult to coordinate two separate plans for child custody and support. 

In cases of a second marriage with stepchildren, it can be disconcerting to learn that you have no legal rights to parenting time or visitation with stepchildren even if you’ve helped raise them. Unless you’ve adopted a stepchild, it’s up to their parent whether or not you can continue to have a relationship with them.

Knowing What to Expect in a Second Divorce

Despite the increased complexity of a second divorce, one positive way that it differs from the first one for many divorcing spouses is that they are familiar with the process and know what to expect. Divorcing spouses who have already experienced the stress of court litigation in a contested first divorce are more likely to try harder to manage an uncontested divorce agreement with a second spouse through mediation, communication, and compromise.

When facing a second divorce, it’s more important than ever to have a skilled Chandler family law attorney who can help you untangle the more complex issues associated with divorce the second time around.