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Want to lower the divorce rate? Try ‘wedleases,’ lawyer says

Posted Aug 6, 2013 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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If society wants to battle the high divorce rate, it should borrow a concept from real estate, according to a Florida estate planning lawyer.

Wedlock could be replaced with a “wedlease,” lawyer Paul Rampell writes in an opinion column for the Washington Post.

“Here’s how a marital lease could work,” Rampell writes. “Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years—one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided, and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.”

The marital lease could describe each spouse’s property to keep ownership clear, and the spouses could keep a schedule of items purchased during the marriage to decide ownership at the end of the lease term or at death, Rampell says. In the event the spouses have children, there could be an option for the lease to automatically continue until the children reach the age of majority, he adds. Perhaps a third party could be named to arbitrate disputes.

Rampell argues that the legal structure of marriage needs to adapt to address the high divorce rate. “Why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?” he asks.

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