Tips for the Second Time

Marriage and divorce often make a muddle of bank accounts. Here are some tips.

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Marriage and divorce often make a muddle of bank accounts. According to the latest census statistics, 58 percent of divorced men and 41 percent of divorced women over 50 are remarried, which can present a complicated situation: How do you handle prior financial commitments, such as college costs, while starting your new life together? Here are some tips.

Talk out the details. Decide up front who will pay for what and whether certain costs, such as those related to children, will be paid for out of joint money or separate accounts.

Get a prenuptial agreement. Laws vary by state, but many states will consider assets to be joint, even if they were held before marriage. So if you want to protect your savings in the case of a second divorce, sign a prenup before walking down the aisle.

Protect your children. If you die before your new spouse does, he or she, not your children, might receive all your assets. Draw up a will with a lawyer.

Consider marrying your bank accounts, too. While separate accounts may ease the logistics of certain costs, such as alimony, marriage counselors warn that separate spending accounts can lead to secretive behavior that's destructive to a marriage. Even if you choose to keep some accounts separate, marriage counselor Jack Singer recommends talking openly about where funds are going.