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Lawmakers propose marriage contracts with expiration dates

New York has been frequently making family-law headlines over the last few years. In the last year alone, New York has legalized both gay marriage and no-fault divorce.

We have also recently posted about census data which shows that our state's divorce rate is lower than other parts of the country which are typically considered more conservative. But when it comes to making sensational family-law headlines, our country's neighbor to the south might just have us beat.

Lawmakers in Mexico City recently proposed a novel way to lower divorce rates in the area. Instead of keeping marriage as an institution with lifelong vows, they suggest that newlyweds instead sign a "marriage contract," complete with expiration dates.

The initial contract length would be for two years. After that time, couples can either renew the contract or let it expire. Advocates for the change believe that it will allow couples to dissolve an unhappy marriage without the legal complications and legal expenses of a divorce.

The contracts would also include provisions for property division and child custody, in the event that the marriage is allowed to expire.

It should be noted that the proposal would only apply to Mexico City, which is much more liberal and has a much higher divorce rate than the rest of the country. Mexico as a whole is very influenced by Catholicism, and tends to be rather conservative.

By contrast, about 50 percent of marriages in Mexico City end in divorce, and most divorces occur within the first two years of marriage.

Of course, not everyone supports the "marriage contract" plan. There has been much criticism from the Catholic Church. Recently, a spokesman for the Mexican archdiocese said: "This reform is absurd. It contradicts the nature of marriage."

Could such a measure pass? If so, will it ever be proposed in the United States? Only time will tell.

Source: Reuters, "'Til 2013 do us part? Mexico mulls 2-year marriage," Alex Leff, Sept. 29, 2011

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Keith B. Schulefand, ESQ | No Fault Divorce

Keith B. Schulefand, ESQ | No Fault Divorce


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