The "'til death do you part" part of marriage is an antiquated notion that should be abandoned, Paul Rampell argued in a Washington Post op-ed. Instead, marriage should be a "wedlease," in which couples agree to stay together for only a specified period of time.
The "legal structure of marriage" is in need of improvement, claims Rampell, who is a Palm Beach, Fla., lawyer specializing in estate planning. In particular, Rampell is concerned about the permanency aspect of marriage, which he describes as a deficiency of the institution.
"Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime -- one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die," he wrote. "Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction."
Rampell suggests, therefore, borrowing a term from real estate and creating a marital lease, or "wedlease." For a wedlease, a couple would commit to a "marriage" of a certain number of years, "whatever term suits them." At the end of the wedlease they could choose to renew the lease for another term or separate.
A benefit of the wedlease, Rampell adds, is that it would reduce the number of divorces because couples would simply stop being "married" at the end of the lease rather than get a divorce.
"The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit," Rampell notes.
To enforce the lease, Rampell suggests using security deposits. If one of the spouses breaks their lease, they lose the deposit.
Jerry Cox, president of Arkansas Family Council, offered a four point rebuttal to Rampell.
"You can't 'try' commitment," Cox wrote. "Either you are committed, or you are not. This is the same problem people who live together before marriage run into. By its very nature, marriage is an exclusive commitment to another person. If your 'commitment' to your spouse only lasts a predetermined number of years, that's not a commitment; that's just a temporary agreement."
Read the rest of Cox's points here.