Family Law

Has the Time Come for Renewable Marriage Contracts?


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Several lawmakers in Mexico City proposed the idea last year: Permit couples to enter into renewable marriage contracts for terms as short as two years.

The idea never became law, but it led a New York Times columnist to consider (and then reject) the idea of 20-year marriage contracts. “The rough idea: two people, two decades, enough time to have and raise children if that’s your thing; a new status quo, a ceremony with a shelf life, till awhile do us part,” Matt Richtel wrote in the Fashion & Style section.

After all, the column says, divorce rates since 1990 have doubled for those aged 50 to 64, and tripled for those 65 and over.

Richtel interviewed several experts for their take on the idea. One of them was Kenneth Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. If such contracts were allowed, he said, a formula would be needed to predetermine alimony when the 20-year period ends.

Other experts talked on the one hand about the benefits of a lifelong commitment and on the other hand about the illusions of romantic love.

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