My husband, Steve, was a banker for 25 years. So when it comes to people and their finances, he has seen it all. His signature statement is, “I spent the first 25 years of my career getting people into debt, and I’d like to spend the rest helping them get out.”
All couples should address strategic financial subjects that may cause tension such as: tithing, spending, setting up a budget, etc. In a stepfamily, however, the challenges are even greater. Money, and providing for two homes, can be a huge stressor in a second marriage. Therefore, I’ve compiled the most strategic questions to ask before remarriage.
These can also be a guideline on topics to tackle if you have already tied the knot!
1) What are your financial obligations, such as child support or alimony, to your ex-spouse? At what age do they end?
2) How often will child support payments be revisited, and what is the likelihood of an increase or a decrease in payments in the future?
3) Do you have a will or trust? Who is currently the beneficiary?
4) What monthly expenses, in addition to child support, are necessary to provide for your children? Will your financial obligations prevent us from having a child?
5) What does your divorce agreement require regarding educational expenses? For example, is a private school expected through high school? Does the child have any obligation to save toward college?
6) What are the financial plans for the child should you die or become disabled or incapacitated?
7) What, if any, financial expectations do you have for me as the stepmom for your children?
8) How much total debt do you currently owe?
9) What are your financial plans regarding retirement?
10) When you die does your former wife receive your Social Security, pension, 401(k) or other benefits?
Although this may be an awkward discussion before a remarriage, it can prevent unwanted stress or big surprises in the future. The answers also reveal what provisions are or are not in place for the new wife, her children and/or his children. Evaluating your financial situation and expectations before a remarriage is vital in preventing turmoil later on.
Perhaps your remarriage took place with no consideration for financial issues. Take heart, it’s never too late to communicate, set goals, and receive assistance from a knowledgeable resource (preferably a neutral party who doesn’t benefit financially). The key is to be honest and clearly evaluate your budget, debt, and financial commitments.