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Beyond the divorce rate: second marriages on the rise

The divorce rate is a statistic commonly thrown about during conversations here in Dallas and throughout the country. Fifty percent, or one out of every two marriages ending in divorce, can seem like a dire forecast for young couples starting out together. However, family law is a dynamic field today and some other interesting statistics may help to put the divorce rate into some perspective.

For example, a recent report by the Pew Research Center has found that four out of every 10 marriages today involve partners who have actually said the vows at least once before. That may be due to divorce, or due to a partner's passing away. As Americans live longer and healthier lives, the latter scenario is becoming increasingly common.

There were also some interesting differences in the way older men and older women viewed marriage. Men tended to express a more positive view of marriage beyond the first, with 65 percent indicating they would remarry or were not sure whether they would or not. However, only 43 percent of women felt the same way. One researcher speculated that older men were accustomed to their wives caring for them, something women were less keen to do again after the end of a marriage.

With the ever-changing family landscape today, family legal issues are also playing out in sometimes unforeseen ways. Older couples remarrying, for example, are less likely to bring child support and child custody issues into their second marriages because the children will be grown and independent. However, they will need to make sure their estate plans and related documentation are updated as soon as possible. They may also have questions about grandparents' rights, as their children may go through separations and deal with their own child custody issues.

While no one can foresee every twist and turn that families will negotiate today, a legal professional can be a valuable asset at any point in a couple's life. Whether it's a first marriage, a divorce or (as is becoming increasingly likely) a remarriage, professional legal advice can help minimize the risk of unexpected legal disputes.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Forty percent of new U.S. marriages are remarriages, report finds," Fredrick Kunkle, Nov. 14, 2014

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