Does Marriage Have to be a Lifelong Commitment? A Lawyer Recommends a “Wedlease” Instead


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Paul Rampell, in a Washington Post Op-Ed article, espoused the idea that marrying for life is an antiquated idea that should be gotten rid of. Instead, people should agree on a specific length of time they will spend together or what he calls a “wedlease” before they tie the knot.

Rampell, who is a Palm Beach, Florida lawyer who specializes in estate planning, says that the legal structure of marriage is in need of improvement. Rampell goes on to say that marriage is a legal contract that lasts until the death of one of the partners. He adds that he thinks that this social contract is too long and people change over time which renders the contract less effective.

A “wedlease” is Rampell’s suggestion for would-be marriage partners. He borrowed the term from the real estate industry. A couple would commit to a certain number of years as stated in their wedlease and at the end of that time, they would be free to renew the lease or continue on elsewhere said Rampell.

The number of divorces would decrease if a “wedlease” was taken out before the marriage according to Rampell. He added that it would be beneficial to the couple because they would just stop being married rather than having to go through the costly procedure of a divorce.

Rampell suggests using security deposits to enforce the “wedlease” and if one partner breaks the contract, then he/she would lose the deposit.

However, Jerry Cox, president of Arkansas Family Council, does not agree with Rampell’s ideas. He wrote that you cannot try a commitment. Cox argued, “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.”

Neither party addressed how the addition of children complicates the concept of a “wedlease.”



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