The 18th Century Diarist Samuel Johnson referred to second marriage as “triumph of hope over experience”.

There is considerable evidence to show that the problems which arose during a first marriage will be carried forward into the second marriage which may explain the rise of second marriage divorces year on year. Further pressure arises as a result of continuing disputes and litigation over children and finance from the first marriage.

So what are the typical issues that arise following a second marriage:-

  • A dependent former spouse (typically a first wife) may seek a variation of her maintenance or capitalisation. That could arise in conjunction with a second marriage but it is commonplace at the time of a second divorce. The 2010 case of Vaughan [EWCA Civ. 349] emphasised the importance of striking a balance between obligations to a first spouse and the freedom to enter into a fresh financial commitment with the second marriage. In summary it said that priority would not be given to one spouse over another where there had been more than one marriage.
  • Child Support. The current child support regime is based on the gross income of the non-resident parent but deductions arise from that gross income where there are other children living in the non-resident parent’s household. That could mean children with a new wife/partner or step-children. It follows that a second marriage will inevitably lead to a review of financial obligations to the children of a first marriage.
  • Particular friction can arise over educational choices for children of different relationships. A non-resident father (for example) may feel that he can no longer afford to privately educate the children of his first marriage as a result of his financial obligations in his second marriage. He will not take kindly to being told that a Court is likely to favour the status quo and may regard continuity of education as a paramount concern. A second wife may feel equally resentful if her children are obliged to attend state schools whilst the children of a first marriage are privately educated.
  • A second marriage is an opportune time to re-examine Wills and inheritance, particularly nominations under life insurance/death in service policies and dependency nominations under pensions. Often these will have not been revised following the end of a first marriage and it is important to ensure a workable solution in the event of the death of a parent who has obligations to 2 families.
  • Anyone embarking on a second marriage would be wise to consider the benefits of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

We might assume that second marriages have a higher success, having learnt from the mistakes of the first marriage. It is not true and a second divorce can be far more painful than the first time round.