The Wedlease: the sensible alternative to formal marriage?

Don Lemon's comments on marriage were weighing on my mind when I happened read this post over on NPR.org.

"People marry and divorce as if getting married is the equivalent of the high school concept of going steady," says Florida lawyer Paul Rampell.

Which is why, as Rampell said Tuesday on Tell Me More, he's pitching the idea of "wedleases."

That is:

"A combination of the words wedlock and lease. Two people commit themselves to a marriage, to a written contract for a period of years. One year. Five years. Ten years. Whatever term suits them.
"The marital lease can renewed at the end of the term, however many times the couple likes. It could end up lasting a life time if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad the couple can go their separate ways at the end of the term they've chosen. The messiness of divorce is avoided and at the end, it can be as simple as moving out of a rental apartment."

Would Some Marriages Be Better If Couples Signed 'Wedleases'?

How does it differ from a prenuptial agreement?

It differs almost fundamentally, from my understanding. Rather than provide conditions for divorce, a wedlease turns a marriage into an agreement that must constantly be renewed. It doesn't necessarily weaken the "for better or worse" clauses - in fact in some aspects it may strengthen them. Divorce becomes a largely obsolete process if a marriage will just end naturally in a set amount of time.

It can actually be viewed as a more romantic version of a paradigm traditionally borne from property trades. The couple just actively and regularly renews their cows vows - and possibly even contract clauses - for a continued relationship.

Edit: Great typo there.

This isn't a new concept, it just hasn't gained much popularity - people do typically approach marriage as a forever thing, naive as that may be. The incidence of "meh if this doesn't work out, we can just get a divorce" being uttered during an engagement is a lot more rare than conservatives and sky-fallers would believe.

Heh, renewed cows.

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-buWzmD0V8h8/T5nqGYlYlkI/AAAAAAAAAxk/lPCK0Ikabzg/s1600/500x_birthday.jpg)

So, it's modern handfasting then? "For a year and a day"?

ringsnort wrote:

"A combination of the words wedlock and lease. Two people commit themselves to a marriage, to a written contract for a period of years. One year. Five years. Ten years. Whatever term suits them.
"The marital lease can renewed at the end of the term, however many times the couple likes. It could end up lasting a life time if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad the couple can go their separate ways at the end of the term they've chosen. The messiness of divorce is avoided and at the end, it can be as simple as moving out of a rental apartment."

I think is is how our Paleo has married himself to Paleogal a few years back. A marriage EULA with a perpetual evergreen clause, or something like that.

If the marriage is bad, why wait the full term? Why not just get a divorce and get out of a bad situation?

Divorce usually takes a long time too.

Seth wrote:

It differs almost fundamentally, from my understanding. Rather than provide conditions for divorce, a wedlease turns a marriage into an agreement that must constantly be renewed.

True, I was thinking more about the "no more messy divorces" part. There will still be the mess usually involved in splitting up possessions and deciding custody arrangements for any children.

It will certainly be at profitable, since people who decide to stay together have to file for renewals which means more fees to collect for both whoever's crafting the wedlease agreements and and the state for processing them.

I don't know what this obsession is with marriage. It seems very important to a wide group of people for completely irrational reasons. Marriage does not have a demonstrable effect on a child's intelligence or school performance, it does not have a demonstrable effect on crime, on overall personal health. So far as I have ever been able to find, married people live slightly longer, but not as significantly altered as by people who own dogs. Marriage does not seem to effect infant mortality.

In short, you do not need marriage to have kids do well in school. You do not need marriage to decrease crime. You do not need marriage to make you live longer. Because it does none of these things.

Divorce rates are to society as batting average is to baseball-a meaningless number when compared to demonstrably more useful information. Choices in marriage, in divorce, are as about as consequential as pancakes vs waffles.

Marriage is a public symbol of one's commitment to another. Its a commitment that varies from couple to couple, perhaps, but the important words are "public symbol" and "commitment." I'm proud of my relationship with my wife, I'm proud that we've taken part in an ancient tradition, and that pride 1) persists despite our well educated knowledge of the history of marriage, 2) in no way affects how I view the relationships of others, and 3) is shaken only when such an option is not available to other couples who want to demonstrate commitment similar to mine.

Cultural traditions need not have a statistically positive impact on the lives of progeny to retain their value. I love my wife, I love the institution of marriage, and in no way do I think my love of a specific cultural traditon makes it better than others or the lack thereof.

But that certainly doesn't make it worse.

An interesting concept. It sort of boils down to making you say Yes again every few years instead of making you say No. Very different things. Other than that from a ownership perspective (which is what takes so long in a divorce) it doesn't differ much from a prenup.

Do prenups put expiration dates on marriages? That's essentially all a wedlease does. Prenups and other contractual clauses would still be applicable...and adjustable, on a predetermined basis. Which is actually kinda cool.

I think Stengah has the right of it; especially the point about this being more revenue for licensing and whatnot.

Agree with Stengah. I'm sure Paul Rumpell would be the first lawyer in Florida certified to write up wedlease contracts and renew them both for a nominal fee. I have to give it to him though. He could have just created an entirely new market for revenue out of thin air.

On a side note, it would be interesting to see some kind of data on couples who were considering divorce but stuck it out due to things like kids, etc. that managed to renew their love for each other. I think wedleases could make the act of divorcing much easier and sort of kill off any desire to put effort into the marriage to make it work.

I can't see how the division of property or custody of children would become any simpler under a wedlease scenario.

I dug into the article upon which ringsnort's article is based. It answers some of the questions posed here:

A marital lease could describe the property of the spouses in detail, so separate ownership is clear. If a couple wishes to buy something together, or share ownership, they can keep a schedule of these items and decide as they go along how these would be disposed of in the event of a partner’s death or if they do not renew their wedlease. Landlords and tenants have proved the effectiveness of making clear their separate property and its disposition at the end of property leases.

If the couple has a child, there could be an option to have the lease automatically continue until the child reaches the age of majority. Of course, relationships change with family additions and an extended term may not be feasible. But considering the number of children born out of wedlock these days, would it not be better for parents to at least commit to a wedlease, even if it doesn’t last a lifetime?

A wedlease could also imitate a real-estate lease through the use of security deposits. Each spouse could deposit a sum of money with an independent third party to ensure compliance with the wedlease. A further step could be to authorize the third party to arbitrate disputes between the spouses.

http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions...

For me, if the concern is divorce. Why not change it so that people cannot marry until after the age of 25, ideally not before the 29th birthday. If your first marriage is in the late 20's, ideally the 30's, the divorce rate is sub 10%.

KingGorilla wrote:

For me, if the concern is divorce. Why not change it so that people cannot marry until after the age of 25, ideally not before the 29th birthday. If your first marriage is in the late 20's, ideally the 30's, the divorce rate is sub 10%.

You really think social conservatives are going to be OK waiting 29 years to have sex? They have needs even if they won't admit it.

Maybe you can have a "wedlease" until age 29. That way they can change the saying to "sex before wedlease is a sin".

Well, the bible belt, is also the divorce belt, largely tied to the propensity to wed young. Don't let people who are incapable of renting a car, get married.

fangblackbone wrote:

Maybe you can have a "wedlease" until age 29. That way they can change the saying to "sex before wedlease is a sin".

That's essentially the point of wedlease.

So in other words, this is like renting a wife/husband? I thought that is what mail-order brides were for.

fangblackbone wrote:

So in other words, this is like renting a wife/husband? I thought that is what mail-order brides were for.

Mutual renting, from the description, but yeah; the author makes very clear the parallels between renting an apartment and wedlease.

What's the return policy on mail order brides?

Let me wander into P&C and demonstrate my ignorance.

KingGorilla wrote:

Writ large. Why should marriage relationships be terminable at will?

Aren't they already? I thought that was divorce.

Ho-kay. Correct away.

Huh, my "shouldn't" disappeared.

Why shouldn't marriage be terminable at will was my intended question.

Just to belabor this more. Employment terminable at will was deemed to be a superior working relationship between employee and employer. Even threats to that, such as unreasonable NDA's or Non Compete's are falling by the wayside in many employment relationships.

Writ large. Why shouldn't marriage relationships be terminable at will?

That makes a lot more sense. Glad I hit refresh before typing a bunch of question marks!

KingGorilla wrote:

Huh, my "shouldn't" disappeared.

Why shouldn't marriage be terminable at will was my intended question.

That does change the intended question, but divorce is still an option.

Overall, I rather like the concept. It's not right for everyone, but it is intriguing. Of course, I'm not entirely sure it's a good idea. If you're not mature enough to know that you shouldn't be married is temporary marriage a good idea? Also, I'm pretty sure it would lead to some terrible reality TV.

I seem to recall Piers Anthony had a concept like this in... Isle of Woman? One of his pan-historical novels. They called it "mock marriage" I think. That's not really apropos of anything, I guess. It just seemed mildly related.

I think the whole concept of wedlease has great potential for both young couples just starting out as well as seasoned relationship hunters looking to "trade up" to a newer or more interesting model ever 5 to 10 years. However, if statistics are to be believed, I suspect wedlease may disproportionately favor the interests of males over females (in heterosexual relationships) as they grow older.

I'm wary of it. I think it could encourage couples to just give up when they hit a rough patch instead of working through their problems. I think it'd just be better to make divorce much easier, or prenuptial agreements more common.
The additional quotes definitely make it sound like he's more interested in creating a new market that will need contracts and lawyer fees than anything else.

Stengah wrote:

The additional quotes definitely make it sound like he's more interested in creating a new market that will need contracts and lawyer fees than anything else.

In that case, I wholeheartedly support this. And will be launching my new legal service, Romancezoom.com.