According to the U.S. Census Bureau, couples are marrying at a faster rate than they are divorcing and that is good news.
Nonetheless, we all know the divorce rate is still higher than we'd like it to be and that the statistics for a lasting union deteriorate as couples enter their second, third and fourth marriages. If you take the film star Elizabeth Taylor as an example, her success at marriage didn't increase as she progressed to her eighth marriage. All of her nuptials ended in divorce court.
There's no doubt that it's easier to obtain a divorce today than it was back before 1970, when a divorcing spouse needed to allege that the husband or wife had been guilty of a crime or had committed adultery. In California, irreconcilable differences is a sufficient reason to substantiate the need for a divorce.
There does seem to be good news of late, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that divorce rates are decreasing (it was at 4 per 1,000 people in 2000 and 3.6 per 1,000 people in 2011) - and so are marriage rates (8.2 in 1,000 in the year 2000 and 6.2 per 1,000 in 2011).
Yet, if you look around your circle of friends and family, you know there is reason to be discouraged. Gone are the days when most couples made it to their 50th anniversary. These days, they are lucky if they celebrate their 11th year of marriage together.
With Still too Many Marriages Failing, Will Wedleases Become an Option?
With all of this data in mind, Paul Rampell, a Palm Beach lawyer and author of Dictionary of Basic Estate Planning Terms, suggested recently that couples borrow a real estate term and apply it to their unions. His new term "wedlease" made big news.
This is how he explained his idea for wedleases: "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.'"
Under Rampell's plan, two people who would otherwise bond through marriage would instead make a commitment to stay together for a predetermined number of years. The marital lease could then be renewed as needed or the couple could split and find love elsewhere.
The Full Catastrophe of Life
But there is a weakness to Rampell's theory. He says that the wedleases would avoid the "messiness" of divorce.
How is that possible?
Life is messy. We fall in love, have children, buy houses, start businesses, change friends, and watch loved ones die. Throughout all of this, we change and so do our spouses. Yet for some couples, the challenges of life bring them closer and make their bond stronger. For other couples, the change is too profound and divorce seems to be their only option for happier life.
But let's say that a wedlease would make divorce less messy. Whether you marry or opt for a wedlease, it will always be painful.
Do you have questions about custody, guardianships, children's issues, or spousal support? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support, domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website.