7 Things You Must Know Before Remarrying

Post-apocalyptic bride wearing a gas mask and bridal gown in dystopian landscape

Before you take the plunge and decide to remarry, it is important that you are well-informed of what unique challenges lay ahead of your bold, life-changing commitment.

Remarriage can be a whole new ball game, especially when children are involved. So making sure you cover your bases before saying "I do" is pivotal.

Whether you are engaged or inching towards that milestone, here are seven essential points you should know before heading to the altar again.

1. Consider what (or who) went wrong

Figuring out why your prior marriage fell part is key to building a durable future. If you have endured the loss of a spouse, such reflection might not be necessary.

Morihei Ueshiba quote on learning from failure.

While you may be sure why you divorced, it is still worth questioning your assumptions. Reflect on past acts and consider what choices could have made for better outcomes.

Jason Voorhees experiencing self-reflection while sitting in a café
Moment of self-reflection: "Was I the bad guy in my last marriage?"

Yet we oversimplify things to ask, "was I the victim or villain?" or "was I the reasonable, responsible one?"

Divorce is complex, sometimes messy, and seldom one person's "fault." Still, taking responsibility for your decisions—good or bad—is paramount.

2. Date for at least 24 months before remarrying

Dating for 24 months before getting married a second time gives you a chance to better understand your prospective life partner, far beyond the surface level.

Proceed with caution

Avoid the trap of rushing into remarriage to escape loneliness. Instead, allow yourself time to heal from past traumas while preparing to enter the next chapter of your life.

Bride and groom rushing through crowd to get married
Pause and reflect on your past marriage before rushing into remarriage.

When you marry your partner, you marry their family, too. How well do you get along with your future in-laws? If you find them offensive, figure that into your decision-making.

Remarrying might start smooth only to veer off-track.

It does not just befall other newlyweds.

Any couple can go through hard times—banal, clichéd hard times. Since kids and other factors might be involved, remarriage requires more than just love.

Prepare for a blended family

As you think hard on remarriage and existing children, approach dating intending to make the stepchild and stepparent relationship strong.

Children and parents laughing at chaotic indoor bonfire
Will your new spouse get along with your children?

Stepparenting is honorable, yet demanding. More so with young children, since they build emotional attachments fast, while older kids take longer adjusting.

According to the American Psychological Association, the ideal time for a parent with young children to remarry is before their child turns 10 or after their child reaches 15 years old.

Adolescents age 10 to 14 have the most trouble adjusting, children under 10 are most accepting, and teenagers 15 and above are least demanding.

3. Have you fallen for the wrong type?

Most divorcees will tell you the main reasons they broke off their marriage was because of abuse, infidelity, financial trouble, or non-stop arguing, among others.

Pennywise sitting at a table on a date
Make sure your future spouse is genuine and right in the head.

Before remarrying, ask yourself if you are falling for the wrong men or women who do not fulfill you. Are they marrying you for false reasons, such as money, intimacy, or loneliness?

But that assessment may be too harsh…

Just because someone seeks financial security, affection, and companionship does not make them false, insincere, or bad; they may become wonderful, loving partners.

Yet trouble arises when that becomes their primary goal.

Phantom man wearing a mask and black suit in front of candles in a dark room
Beware the smiling façade, false intentions may lurk.

Avoid duplicating your last marriage by comparing it to your current relationship. Are there similarities? Study your partner's behavior. Have they upset you like past relations?

Do your due diligence (to the best of your ability) to avoid falling for the wrong person. Whatever the outcome, lovely or post-marriage blues, at least you put in the work.

4. Sort out name change issues

From the moment you tie the knot, filing your name change paperwork is a serious life shift. Together with your partner, weigh what works best for each of you.

Settling on your second married name

You could keep your prior spouse's name, take your new spouse's name, hyphenate names, or come up a brand new last name (this may require a court order and newspaper notice).

Woman looking up at hanging light bulbs and enchanting lighting
Beyond "I do": A world of intricate name change options exists.

Even more options exist…

You could replace your middle name with your maiden name. Or keep using your maiden name socially and professionally (e.g., DBA in your old name) after changing your name.

Decide early, decide well

Commit to a new name that strengthens your union, but avoid indecision or postponement, especially if you trigger deadlines by starting and stopping the name change process.

Man in suit sitting in a room surrounded by piles of papers
Consistency is key: Commit to your name change journey.

Decide early if name change is right for you. Making a poor choice or no choice the day you apply for a marriage license could weaken your name change options.

Remember, name change will affect your professional documents and academic certificates, driver's license, social security card, passport, bank accounts, etc.

You didn't change your name after divorce

You cannot use your maiden name to remarry unless it is your current legal name, and the name you put down on the marriage license application must match your current ID.

Astonished and confused couple applying for marriage license at government office
Avoid looking dumbfounded by sorting out your pre-marriage name in advance.

Even with a divorce decree ordering the restoration of your maiden name, the marriage license clerk will not acknowledge it if the change was never completed.

If you wish to avoid having your ex-spouse's name on your marriage license and certificate, return to your maiden name on your ID before applying for a marriage license.

Offended exes, spouses, and kids

Name change has a unique problem that only applies to second marriages and beyond: what if you want to keep your prior spouse's last name? (This is still your name, too.)

Getting married again and keeping your divorced ex's name risks offending your ex, your ex's spouse or partner, and your new spouse.

They might think it odd and foul that you:

  1. Have not changed your name after divorced.
  2. Still do not plan to change your name after remarrying.

Yet changing your name might risk alienating your kids, who want or expect solidarity through a shared last name. At least for a while longer.

This dilemma has no great solution.

There is one absolute truth: only you have the power to decide your name change. Your ex-spouse cannot force you to change your name after divorce.

5. Consider your kids' losses

There is enormous pressure on children, even in stable marriages. Kids can become torn between their parents; gravitating more towards one over the other.

Divorce could amplify this partiality.

Dating after divorce may be a roller coaster of fun and promise, but it could crush your kids' hopes of seeing their parents reconciling. Your prior spouse's absence is now real.

Emotional child sitting on couch
Children may face turmoil accepting their parent's new partner.

Before you commit to another marriage, consider the acute impact and sense of loss your new spouse may have on your children.

You may have to postpone remarriage until your kids have gone to college or moved out. Always stay mindful and sympathetic towards how this affects them.

Above all, never rush your children into acceptance when they are still grieving.

6. Do not expect too much from your kids

Chances are you are so in love you believe your future spouse will love your children as you do. While stepparents can build powerful bonds, it will not match the bond you have built.

Parenting becomes a Rorschach test

Your children may seem like spoiled brats or self-centered teens to your future spouse, but to you, they are the same tiny tykes who used to curl up in your arms with a bedtime story.

Contribute or stay in your lane

Your new spouse becomes a stepparent by default. They are not the biological parent, but they must parent. Yet their approach could alienate you and your kids.

Sullen man surrounded by emotive, little stepchildren
"I am not their father!" inner monologues the iffy stepparent.

Or they might choose to hush and keep the peace. Go along to get along. Share nothing, assert nothing. Unwilling to challenge the status quo until those kids either mature or vacate.

Who is this scoundrel?

Your kids may look upon their new stepparent as a rival, swooping in like a vulture to take the place of their real parent. Acceptance, resentment, and loyalties collide.

Ferocious, screaming young girl with fire in the background
Children may be a tad bit unwelcoming to a new stepparent.

What foul Night of the Hunter imaginings rummage through youngsters' minds?

Perhaps, in the immortal words of Ashe:

Talking with my mother
She I said, "Where'd you find this guy?"
Said, "Some people fall in love
With the wrong people sometimes"

Ashe. Lyrics to "Moral of the Story." Genius, 2019, genius.com/Ashe-moral-of-the-story-lyrics.

Remarriage is a threat to their world.

Choose war, mom, dad, faux-parent, junior

Not every parent, stepparent, and stepchild household devolves into open warfare. Earlier point #2 (dating for 24 months before getting remarried) could help here.

And woe is you if step-siblings are involved.

Parenting in a blended family can be tricky to navigate. Understanding each person's point of view—parents and kids—fosters goodwill and consensus.

7. Remarriage comes with new obstacles

Before you commit yourself to another marriage, figure out what you are committing to—your marriage or children.

Bride and groom walking through fantastical eerie forest
Embrace the journey of marriage anew, overcoming hurdles together.

Making vows and a covenant to stay together does not equate to neglecting the children. But it requires that your marriage become a priority.

The ghost of your previous marriage could haunt you, especially if there were unpleasant experiences. You might not realize how it could affect your new marriage.

The important point is to avoid over-interpreting your next marriage with memories of the prior. Otherwise, you might harm what you have now.

Concluding thoughts

The decision to remarry will bring grand challenges and rewards. You will have plenty of work to do keeping your family afloat this second or third walk down the aisle.

Let us summarize the key points covered…

Acknowledge — Recognize what went wrong in your earlier marriage before getting married again, making sure you are not repeating history.

Patience — Take your time—date for at least 24 months—and make sure that you have fallen in love with a honest partner who reflects and respects your values and ambitions.

Kids — Heed the impact your remarriage will have on kids and stepchildren, and consider changing your name if tensions arise between ex-spouses.

You can remarry with confidence if you know what to guard against. Believe in second chances and knock out whatever obstacle stands in your way.

Our name change kit helps you change your name, either before or after marriage.

Start Your Name Change


  1. I got married and took my ex-husband's last name (my current legal name). However, I'm marrying again and want to hyphenate my maiden name with 2nd husband's last name. Is this possible?

    • Hi Jocelyn. You may be able to take a step back and hyphenate your maiden name with your second husband's last name, but it depends on the state where you got married in and the state where you reside. If you reply back with both states, I can provide a more definite response.

  2. I got married traditionally then I changed my name to my husband's, later divorced but we don't have papers. I mean we did not sign any documents. Is it possible to change to my maiden name?

    • I changed my name to my husband's, later divorced but we don't have papers

      You don't have papers? Do you mean your divorce was never finalized? If a judge approved your divorce, there would be a record of it. You could order a certified copy from the custodian of that record.

      Is it possible to change to my maiden name?

      It depends. If your divorce was finalized, your divorce decree would need to include a judge's order that restores your maiden name.

      • If she is from Africa and had a 'Traditional Marriage', then it is possible that she would not have any documents on the marriage and or divorce.

        In Ghana and Ashanti to be precise, these 'Traditional Marriages' are conducted in the Brides parental of family home. Families of the couple gather to celebrate this marriage, by mostly presenting some drinks and sometimes payment of 'Bride Price!'

        The bride is summoned and asked whether these items presented by her would be suitor should be accepted or not! Once accepted, marriage is complete. The families take some of the drinks to their various hometowns to inform rest of their family about the marriage.

        During divorce the 'Head drink' or 'Tiri Nsa' is returned to the husband's family and once accepted and confirmed by throwing some powder on the woman, the marriage is complete.

        In our setting, we marry families and not individuals so a widow would have to go through similar 'divorce rites' to be free to remarry. Mostly younger widows who are likely to remarry do so.

        • However it is more difficult to prove of the existence of such marriage when it comes to inheritance and the dead spouse's family may not be in any mood to prove of marriage's existence.

          Due to this and the promulgation of the Intestate Succession Law PNDCL 111, spouses especially women are encouraged to registered these traditional marriages at the District, Municipal or Metropolitan Assemblies.

          If such is done, then there will be documentation on the marriage, during divorce, same goes through the above institutions to have marriage dissolved.

      • Lots of traditional marriages in Africa are not registered. Unions are usually celebrated in brides parental or family homes.

  3. My legal name is my ex husband's last name. I'm going to remarry and want to keep ex husbands last name because that has been my name for a lot of years. Can I just add my new husband's last name to my previous husband's last name? I'm in Utah.

  4. Hi. I'm divorced now and going to get marry again. What surname will I use to apply for the marriage visa? All my documents have my married name. Even my passport. I'm here in Hong Kong currently working. Please help me. My fiance lives in Australia. Will we use my married name in applying for marriage visa? Please, please do help us in this. Thank you.

  5. My boyfriend's ex wife is getting remarried. She is still using her married name. Can her new husband take my boyfriend's last name when they get married? In Texas.

    • Can her new husband take my boyfriend's last name when they get married?

      No, not through marriage.

  6. My fiance is a widow still using her husband's name. When we marry, she wants to use her maiden name. Does she have to do a formal name change since it's her maiden name?

    • Hi Mick. She'll have to use whichever name matches here current ID. They'll ask for this when she applies for a marriage license.

  7. Hi I hope you can help me. I emigrated to the UK in 2004. I was married then but am now divorced. I hyphenated my maiden and ex's name which I did not change after divorce due to the complications this would bring with documentation.

    I recently got engaged but if I remarry and I do not change my name will this affect my life with my future husband in any way or once my name is on a marriage certificate whether I change my name to his or not that's all I need?

    I await your reply.

    Thank you

    • if I remarry and I do not change my name will this affect my life with my future husband in any way or once my name is on a marriage certificate whether I change my name to his or not that’s all I need?

      Keeping or changing your name has no material affect on anything.

  8. I am a widow who currently lives in NC. I am getting remarried. Can I hyphenate my current last name of my late husband with my new husband's last name?

  9. Hello. I'm a widow 8 years ago I lost my husband. Now I am engaged with someone else and soon marry with him. Now my question is all my documents like voter card, driving licence, adhar card, passport and all policy of bank documents I used my late husband surname.

    My new would be hubby want to change my surname because he is an employee of a company and need to put me as his wife. So how and what is the process of changing my late hubby surname. Is it necessary to change my last name of late hubby to remarry?

    • Hi Sagarika. The process is the same as if you weren't widowed. You'd use your marriage certificate after you marry.

  10. I was married and divorced in India. I'm having my 2 years old daughter with me. Can I change my last name of ex husband to my father's last name? And my second question is can I change my daughter's last name with my father's last name? I want to remove my ex husband's name and last name also from my daughter's name. Plz help me.

  11. I have a question. My brother is getting a divorce. His soon to be ex wife is wanting to go back to the last name of another ex-husband to whom she was married prior to marring my brother. Is it legal for her to do that?

    She is claiming to the court that it is her maiden name. I understand that a maiden name is the one that you have before any marriage, is this correct or can she legally go back to his name? FYI we all live in the state of Oklahoma.

    • I understand that a maiden name is the one that you have before any marriage, is this correct

      Correct. It's the last name at birth.

      or can she legally go back to his name?

      Yes, the divorce judge can allow her to return to any prior legal name, including a previous ex's.

  12. Hello I was married and divorced in California but currently live in Illinois. They told me in California that I can't change my name back to my maiden name without paying a fee and filling paperwork. If I remarry in Illinois can I go back to my maiden name at that point or will I still have to pay the fee in California? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Alejandra. You'd have to undergo a court-petitioned name change in Illinois to return to your maiden name. California and their fees and procedures no longer apply since you don't live there anymore.

      However, if your divorce decree includes an order restoring your maiden name, you can use it any time to go back to your old name.

  13. Hi I'm divorce and I'm still using my ex husband last name but I will remarrying soon and my fiancee still in the Philippines. My question is do I need to use my maiden name to marry him in the Philippines or I will still use my ex husband last name?

    • do I need to use my maiden name to marry him in the Philippines or I will still use my ex husband last name?

      Use your current legal name, which would be your ex's.

  14. Currently been married to my wife for 4yrs. She still has her ex husbands last name and she states it’s because of her kids. It doesn’t sit right with me and she knows it. I had a talk with her today on a serious note. She said she’s going to change it but I’m starting to feel like she doesn’t really care. It doesn’t feel good to be married for the first time and it be a woman who still carries her ex husbands name. It’s making me resent her

    • It doesn’t feel good to be married for the first time and it be a woman who still carries her ex husbands name. It’s making me resent her

      Thanks for sharing your story. You may want to take a look at the reasons for not changing one's name after divorce article as well as the comments section where people discuss their rationale and objections.

  15. I have a question I was divorced in September of this year and went back to my maiden name and plan on getting remarried in October (this month). Do I have to changed my ID and SS card to my maiden name and again after I'm married?

    • Do I have to changed my ID and SS card to my maiden name and again after I'm married?

      No, that's not necessary.

  16. New Mexico resident: Want to use maiden name on birth certificate and driver’s license for USA marriage license application. But current last name is different due to an invalidated marriage (marriage took place outside of USA and last name changed to reflect what was thought to be a legal marriage at that time).

    Can the maiden name be used for this new marriage license then? (Scared to use current last name that is currently on several government issued documents if the last name was from a invalid marriage. Always filed single on tax forms anyway.)

    Example: Jane Smith (on birth certificate and even driver’s license. But on passport it is Jane Smith Doe (on marriage certificate that is invalid).

    I want a valid marriage so how do I apply for license correctly? Sorry for long post.

    • Can the maiden name be used for this new marriage license then?

      Your prior marriage may have been invalidated, but your name change persists. You'd have to use what's still your current legal name on your new marriage application.

      If your prior marriage has annulment or dissolution papers, you may be able use it to go back to your maiden name.

      Always filed single on tax forms anyway.

      Your name doesn't have an affect on your filing single or married.

  17. My husband died 3 years ago. I'm 59 I receive his SS survivors benefits. If I remarry at age 60, can I keep my deceased husband's SS.

  18. Hi my fiancé is divorced. His former wife is still using his name. Am I still allowed to use his name once we marry?

  19. Thanks information was very helpful. I'm frustrated I'm a widow and I didn't change my last name. Now I am remarrying and so confused. I'm in NY state, my husband was from Jamaica and never processed any United States documents. I used his last name now I'm stuck with it. Can I use maiden name when I fill out paperwork to remarry?

    • Hi Sheryl. When you apply for a marriage license, you must use your current legal name. However, depending on the state, you may be able to go back to your maiden name. I can't say for certain unless you specify the state.

  20. I am a divorced women but kept my ex husbands last name so it would be the same as my child's. I am getting remarried, would my new husband be able to take our last name?

  21. Can I use my maiden name to re marry? I am divorced and have my decree. But all my ID is still in my married name.

    • Can I use my maiden name to re marry?

      Are you talking about claiming your maiden name as your current name on the application or changing to your maiden name after marriage?

      Let's go through both scenarios.

      1) Incorrectly claiming your maiden name is your current legal name: This wouldn't be proper. You should put your current name on the marriage license application. You'll likely have to show ID to match.

      2) Changing your name after marriage to your maiden name: It may be possible. It varies by state. Without knowing your state I can't say for sure. If your divorce decree included an order allowing the restoration of your maiden name, you can make that change now, before you remarry.

      • I live in Massachusetts and I have the same issue. Can I change my name back to my maiden name even though I remarried in my ex husband's name. My previous divorce decree gave me that option.

  22. I used my maiden name for my second marriage and didn't tell the court I changed my name with my first husband and that was because my present ID card had my maiden name. Is it ok or do I need to go back to the court?

    • Hi Isioma. The court isn't going to check up on you. Nor does the incorrect information invalidate your marriage. If you want to get your marriage record amended, they have procedures and forms available to do so.

  23. My husband passed away in November (we were getting divorced) and I haven’t changed my name. My bf and I have talked about getting married in the future. So since I carry my late husband's last name still which last name would go on the license when I do decide to ever get remarried.

    • So since I carry my late husband's last name still which last name would go on the license when I do decide to ever get remarried.

      Where the application asks for your name or current name, you'd put your current legal name, which would be your late husband's.

    • Should a wife change her name from a ex husband name after being re married?

      Not all women do. Some even return to their maiden name or a prior legal name. It's a personal choice.

  24. I want to know I got married with my wife and have my marriage certificate in 2010. After my wife change her name by court order and get SSN new name and DMV new name and remarriage new name in 2015. Which marriage certificate counts as my marriage date? Which one is my legal marriage certificate? Thank you.

    • Hi Dan. Both are legitimate marriage certificates, but your first marriage date is considered your date of marriage. A remarriage certificate is treated as a vow renewal.

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