Green Room

With this ring, I thee … lease?

posted at 3:07 pm on August 13, 2013 by

Or rent, depending on the contract term.  I missed this op-ed from Palm Beach attorney Paul Rampell last weekend proposing the idea of “wedleases,” a pseudo-matrimonial contractual relationship that has an expiration date as part of the package, but NPR picked up on it today:

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: 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.

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.

You know what else works well for those kinds of property arrangements?  Prenuptial contracts.  Properly executed, they do exactly what Rampell proposes here, only without the oddball time-limited commitment. For that matter, cohabiting couples can create this kind of partnership contract, complete with time limits, without the creation of “wedleases.”

Plus, this doesn’t actually solve the problem Rampell wants to address.  What happens when one partner wants to break a “lease” at two years, rather than for the agreed five-year term?  Does the lessee still get, er, possession of the property, or do you need to go to court for an eviction?  Couples with enough of a commitment issue to engage in a “wedlease” aren’t terribly likely to stick around to the expiration date when things get tough, which means courts will have to intervene, especially if one party decides not to honor the commitment, the same as happens with marriages and prenups now.

Addendum: What about those men and women who aren’t too keen on leases or ownership? Should we create the “wedloan”?

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Comments

Of course we could just do away with marriage all together.That would solve the divorce problem too

NerwenAldarion on August 13, 2013 at 3:10 PM

So, if these pseudo marriage produces a real child then what? Oh yeah, the government has done away with fathers.

Oil Can on August 13, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Medieval Scotland had something sort of like this: a trial marriage for one year, at the end of which either party could simply walk away.

rbj on August 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Muslims do this all the time. Islam’s so inventive!

Shy Guy on August 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM

I know I’ll get hammered for saying it, but this really isn’t such a bad idea. It simply codifies the way people are already behaving, but in a more equitable manner. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense for everybody, but it would be a big improvement for some.

ElectricPhase on August 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I have been advocating this for YEARS. Five year renewable contracts. When you reach the end of the five years both agree to go another five, or they call it quits and leave with what they came in with, the rest split according to contribution.

Or as Steve Martin said “The way we do it in the old country is we say ‘I break with thee, I break with thee’ and then we throw dog poop on her shoes.”

archer52 on August 13, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Uh Oh…. the comments regarding this topic are mostly positive. SURPRISE !!!

ExpressoBold on August 13, 2013 at 3:50 PM

I know I’ll get hammered for saying it, but this really isn’t such a bad idea. It simply codifies the way people are already behaving, but in a more equitable manner. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense for everybody, but it would be a big improvement for some.

ElectricPhase on August 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I see what you’re saying, but….

Just because a lot of people make a hash of something, doesn’t make it right to simply change the rules to accommodate that. We are already poised to make the same mistake with regard to illegal immigration. “Well, illegal aliens are already here in droves, let’s just make them legal rather than enforce the law. What’s the point of enforcing the law anyway? We’ve already dropped the ball on it.”

“Well, my dog’s been crapping on the carpet for a year now, and nothing I do stops him. I guess I’ll just put up with the smell.”

CurtZHP on August 13, 2013 at 3:52 PM

if a couple has commitment issues then they should go to a counselor and figure out the problem. doing this “lease” thing doesn’t actually solve their commitment issues. it’s just a way to avoid trying to solve the problem.

Sachiko on August 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Who pays when you go over the mileage limit in the contract?

TexasDan on August 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Imagine a wed-sub-lease.

glsmith36 on August 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

That has got to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard! Please tell me that whoever thought this up is thinking about homosexual, not heterosexual marriage. And the gay marriage lobby laughs at us when we tell them that marrige between same sex partners will lead to unforeseen problems. Case in point;

If this “wedlease” is between a man and a woman, at the end of the lease, who gets the kids? I guess they are just a commodity once marriage gets to this point, so they will just be part of the contract also? If people don’t think enough of each other to make a lifetime commitment to their relationship, then why would they care what happens to the innocent children created out of that intentionally temporary partnership? If we think we have problems with screwed up kids from divorced spouses now, just wait until this becomes legal.

Susanboo on August 13, 2013 at 4:05 PM

My first job out of college was with IBM. At that time, they had hired some people on a term basis, they would work for five years and then possibly renew. While I was there, one of the terms came due and IBM decided not to renew. Even though she knew renewal was not guaranteed, there was this woman crying in her cube as if she’d been fired. I guess some things were never meant to be leased.

Kafir on August 13, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Should we create the “wedloan”?

We already have those. And they are illegal most places. They’re called hookers.

GWB on August 13, 2013 at 4:26 PM

You can joke all you want but this is a natural extension of redefining marriage. There was a lot of talk about love in the whole gay marriage debate but that fails to take note of the fact that the word love has never appeared on any marriage license.
Marriage is now being reduced to a simple contract between 2 individuals. Why shouldn’t time be a part of that?

For that matter, cohabiting couples can create this kind of partnership contract, complete with time limits, without the creation of “wedleases.”

Umm, no they can’t. A partner can’t make alienation of affection (no sex) a clause for breaking a contract. It is a grounds for divorce. Failing to consummate is an automatic annulment. Basically right now the only contract you can make which includes sex is marriage. Yet to get that you must agree to an entirely open ended contract which has a very expensive and messy legal process to end.

Plus, this doesn’t actually solve the problem Rampell wants to address. What happens when one partner wants to break a “lease” at two years, rather than for the agreed five-year term? Does the lessee still get, er, possession of the property, or do you need to go to court for an eviction?

Actually, it does solve it. What they get are financial damages the same as any other contract when one person violates the terms. What you have then is the end of No fault divorces which should never have been allowed to begin with. The idea that one party in a marriage can violate it’s terms, especially as such a basic level as cheating, and walk away scot free with half the assets of the partnership is ludicrous. Only in marriage do we allow such silliness to take place.

The wording here with leases is such is silly but some very good points are made.Legal marriage has moved entirely away from any sort of traditional or religious basis and is being redefined to any 2 individuals (thankfully just humans at this point). Why would anyone think having done so it will stop at such a point?

Rocks on August 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM

I want a termite report.

2Tru2Tru on August 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Addendum: What about those men and women who aren’t too keen on leases or ownership? Should we create the “wedloan”?

There used to be a term or two for that. I think the less-objectionable one was “one-night stand”.

Steve Eggleston on August 13, 2013 at 5:27 PM

We already have those. And they are illegal most places. They’re called hookers.

GWB on August 13, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Glad you brought up the more-objectionable term.

Steve Eggleston on August 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Simple solution. Become a Shia Muslim. They already have it all figured out.

“Nikāḥ al-Mutʿah (Arabic: نكاح المتعة‎, “pleasure marriage”) is a fixed-term or short-term marriage in Shia Islam, where the duration and compensation are both agreed upon in advance. It is a private and verbal marriage contract between a man and an unmarried woman and there must be declaration and acceptance as in the case of nikah. The length of the contract and the amount of consideration must be specified. There is no minimum or maximum duration for the contract, so it can be as short as a few minutes.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikah_mut%E2%80%98ah

thomthomp on August 13, 2013 at 5:30 PM

I think we should do away with marriages all together. We should have some sort of domestic partnership open to all including adult children who want to take care of their adult parents.

The state should only have special contracts for procreating couples since the only benefit to the state of “couples” who looooove each other is the future taxpayers they raise, support, and create.

melle1228 on August 13, 2013 at 5:43 PM

The messiness of divorce is avoided

Would you please rephrase that statement in the form of a wager?

gekkobear on August 13, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Imagine a wed-sub-lease.

glsmith36 on August 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM

That made me chuckle.

As for the comment saying “This might be a good idea”?

Yeah… have a kid partway through your “lease”, raise it for a year or two, get bored, walk out. Lets make that MORE common and easy to do without any social stigma attached.

Two-parent families aren’t useful for kids, right? We’ll just have preschool at a younger age and let the state raise them. I’m sure they’ll turn out fine.

Which parent keeps the kid? Is that part of the lease?

gekkobear on August 13, 2013 at 5:48 PM

What you have then is the end of No fault divorces which should never have been allowed to begin with. The idea that one party in a marriage can violate it’s terms, especially as such a basic level as cheating, and walk away scot free with half the assets of the partnership is ludicrous. Only in marriage do we allow such silliness to take place.

Bingo! Breaking marriage contracts doesn’t even have legal consequences anymore a lot of times.

melle1228 on August 13, 2013 at 5:49 PM

A marriage includes a vow… to ones spouse and to God. Until death. For better or FOR WORSE. No marriage can exist without a dedication to that commitment. Although I was very young at the time, 34 years ago I made this promise. I knew then that it was serious and a vow to both my wife and my God. It has at times been a difficult journey but I have never lost sight of the seriousness of my vows. Sometimes this alone kept the marriage together when all else failed.
If society wants to go the route of ‘leasing’, why even bother. It’s just another crumbling brick in the foundation. We must be willing to work at it.

manyears on August 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

I knew a couple who actually did this. Their stated vows actually outlined the 10 year commitment they were making…

… 3 Years later they ended up divorced.

Vanilla on August 13, 2013 at 6:12 PM

In Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, familial units were arranged on a contractual basis.

Not restricted to two adults, the adults of the extended families could ‘opt-out’ when necessary, and through whatever mechanism the family agreed to (head of house, democratic vote, assent of all concerned), other adults could be brought into the fold.

Property rights, child well-being, and so on, were in the contract, and there was no time-limit.

I always wondered if there were bonus mechanisms for performance and longevity within the group, and if the lack of government and religious participation was a benefit or not.

Interesting reference from a great writer.

heldmyw on August 13, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Inevitable, once you through out marriage as exclusively an arrangement for child baring and raising, and reduce it to a social license for mutual masturbation.

Count to 10 on August 13, 2013 at 7:18 PM

The rate of marriage has fallen so far that stories like this are happening. you think things are bad now, wait 20-30 years from now when today’s kids are adults. About half of kids today are born out of wedlock. they’ll have no use for marriage when they grow up.

IR-MN on August 13, 2013 at 7:25 PM

As ever the arguments are between those who view reality through the lens of “should be” versus those who view it through the lens of “as is”.

For those who want a Christian marriage this idea won’t fly — but then so many so called Christians divorce anyway. For non-Christians hey why not. A key advantage (and it should be a requirement) of such contracts is writing in up front who is responsible for children and FOR HOW MUCH.

SunSword on August 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Contract marriage would be a better term. Like Ed says, all of this could be handled in a pre-nup.

Mini-14 on August 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM

That reminds me of the sage advice, if it floats, flies, or @#$%s lease don’t buy.

jhffmn on August 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

When I was in college, I new a New Age or neopagan couple who went through a “handfasting” ceremony, where they agreed they were — whatever, pseudo-married– for a year and a day, at which time the deal was over.

Needless to say, it was a great deal for the guy, not such a great deal for the gal. She had wasted a year of her life on a no-account type of guy who had no intention of sticking with her.

Just because lifelong monogamy is hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And this cheap substitute stuff seems like it’s not worth the bother.

SmallishBees on August 13, 2013 at 9:22 PM

I knew a couple who actually did this. Their stated vows actually outlined the 10 year commitment they were making…

… 3 Years later they ended up divorced.

Vanilla on August 13, 2013 at 6:12 PM

they went into their “marriage” from the beginning saying “we know we’re going to break up eventually.” that’s so sad. it defeats the entire point of marriage. marriage means “i want to stay with you for life.” anything else is not marriage.

society is heading in a direction of cheapening marriage by making it all about oneself and not about the spouse (and God). i have thought for a while that the government might as well get out of marriage, if this is where society’s going.

Inevitable, once you through out marriage as exclusively an arrangement for child baring and raising, and reduce it to a social license for mutual masturbation.

Count to 10 on August 13, 2013 at 7:18 PM

this really does sum it up.

Sachiko on August 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Next: Rent-to-own.

Tom C on August 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM

If this is passed, why not “rent by the hour?”

Tom Servo on August 14, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Ah, so this is the next step in destroying the institution of marriage. The culmination perhaps of forty years hard work by the feminist movement.

Gingotts on August 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM

I look forward to Julia Roberts’ future effort, “Layaway Bride”

Crispian on August 14, 2013 at 4:12 PM