Popping the Question - The Second Time Around

Whether the question is popped in private or on the JumboTron, proposing marriage is a nerve-racking moment. But for those who have taken the leap once before, legal and financial baggage from the first marriage can overshadow the romance.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than two million weddings are performed each year, and at least one third of those weddings are remarriages. Yet many newly engaged men and women don't have a clue what they're getting into in marrying someone who has gone through a divorce.

"Forget flowers and champagne. The most romantic proposal involves full disclosure and absolute honesty," says Adryenn Ashley, financial expert and author of Every Single Girl's Guide to Her Future Husband's Last Divorce, a sassy and empowering look at divorce and remarriage with essential tips to help newlyweds protect their assets.

"Your future spouse has a right to know the good, the bad and the ugly before you ask the big question," adds Ashley, who recommends people give a copy of her book to their intended, and then propose marriage. "It's a bit like saying, 'That is, if you still want to marry me,' which isn't like the movies, but it's honest."

According to Ashley, there can be a whole host of legal and financial surprises in a second marriage, especially if the divorced spouse has ongoing financial obligations to his or her first spouse, and any children from that marriage. Here's a sampling of what my come up post-honeymoon:

  • Wage garnishment for child support obligations
  • Asset seizure for family support obligations
  • Poor credit due to errors or joint accounts with ex-spouse
  • Family court and settlement disputes

"The best way to avoid surprises in second marriage is to conduct a Family Wealth Inventory with your family's personal lawyer before getting married," says family wealth expert Alexis Martin Neely.

"This inventory process will uncover any legal or financial issues, even those you aren't aware of, and an objective advisor will be able to help navigate any potential future challenges," explains Martin Neely, whose forthcoming book, Wear Clean Underwear: A Fast, Fun and Friendly Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents, helps families understand how to make the right legal choices for themselves and their children.

Both Ashley and Martin Neely agree that candor over romance is key when planning a new marriage because it allows your future spouse to make an informed decision.

"The more you know before you take the plunge, the better!" adds Martin Neely.

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