How Long After Divorce Can You Remarry in Missouri

Engaged couple holding hands.

Divorce marks the end of a marriage and the beginning of a new chapter of a person’s life. Sometimes, a new chapter includes a new marriage. What do Missouri’s family laws say about getting married after a divorce? Missouri does not place any specific restrictions on how soon you can remarry once you have gotten divorced. That said, a second marriage after divorce — or third, fourth, and so on — could have legal impacts that do not typically occur with first marriages. If you are thinking about getting re-married, here are some aspects of Missouri law for you to consider.

Missouri Has Almost No Restrictions on Remarriage After Divorce

Many states require waiting periods both to get married after getting a divorce and after obtaining a marriage license. In Texas, for example, you cannot remarry for thirty days after a judge grants a divorce. Texas also requires you to wait seventy-two hours after getting a marriage license before you can officially get married. Suppose you got divorced on September 1 in Texas. You would not be legally able to get married again until thirty days later on October 1. If you got your marriage license on a Monday, your marriage would have to wait until Thursday.

Missouri is not like those states. State law in Missouri sets no time limits or other restrictions on when you can remarry after a divorce or how long you have to wait once you get a marriage license. You could get divorced from one person and married to another person on the same day, at least in theory. You might not want to, though. At a minimum, you should consider waiting for about a month.

A divorce judgment does not become final until thirty days after it is entered. This means that one of the spouses can file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or reopen the evidence within that time frame. This kind of motion allows one of the spouses to challenge certain aspects of the final divorce, such as child support or spousal maintenance. A spouse could also ask the court to set the divorce aside altogether, although this is fairly rare unless both spouses agree to give the marriage another try.

This matters because once a court grants a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or reopens the evidence, it essentially “undoes” the divorce. If you got a marriage license before your ex-spouse filed the motion, that license will no longer be valid afterward, and you will not be able to remarry yet. It is advisable to wait until after the thirty days are up to remarry, especially if you have any reason to think that your ex-spouse will file such a motion.

Also, it is important to note that a spouse has an additional 10 days from the date the Judgment becomes final to file an appeal (40 days from the date the judgment is entered). If this were to happen, it could have the potential to affect the validity of some or all of the divorce for many months after the divorce was originally thought to have been concluded.

Effects of Getting Remarried After Divorce

Even if Missouri law does not prevent you from getting remarried after divorce, a new marriage could affect the terms of your divorce. You should be aware of the potential impact before your next wedding.

Spousal Maintenance

A court may award spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, to one spouse in a divorce if it finds that the spouse seeking support (alimony) does not have enough property or income to support themselves. This type of situation may occur when one spouse has significantly higher earning capacity than the other because of factors like education or work experience, and the other spouse would need time to reach a point at which they could earn enough income on their own. A court may consider factors like the standard of living that both spouses enjoyed during the marriage and each spouse’s age and health.

The court can order one spouse (the “obligor”) to make alimony payments to the other spouse (the “obligee”) for a specified period of time, or indefinitely. Either party may request modifications to the order based on changed circumstances. The obligation to pay alimony terminates when certain events occur:

  • The obligee or the obligor dies;
  • The obligation ends according to the terms of the judgment of divorce;
  • The court terminates the obligation; or
  • The obligee remarries.

If you currently receive alimony under a Missouri judgment of divorce, those payments will stop if you get married again. This applies whether you re-marry the obligor or marry someone new.

Child Custody

Any divorce involving minor children in Missouri must include provisions for child custody and child support. Remarriage does not change a child support obligation unless the parents are remarrying one another. It could have an effect on a custody order, however, if one parent is not comfortable with the other parent’s new spouse.

Child custody consists of the legal rights and obligations that come with parenthood. This includes the right to parenting time with the child and to make decisions regarding the child’s health and education

State law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests to have “frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents” after a divorce. When making custody decisions, judges must consider eight factors established by state law, including the child’s relationship with family members “​​and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests.”

If one parent is planning to get married after a divorce, the other parent may be able to ask the court to modify the custody order based on the new marriage. They might cite concerns over the child’s interactions with the new spouse or someone in the new spouse’s family or household. A new marriage could count as a change in circumstances that merits modification. Perhaps one of the best ways to avoid this kind of dispute is for the parent who plans on remarrying to talk to their former spouse and find out what concerns they have ahead of time.

Mark A. Wortman is a family lawyer in Kansas City who has dedicated 100% of his practice to representing people in divorces, child custody disputes, and other family law matters. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online or at (816) 523-6100.