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Would you be willing to sign a 'wedlease?'

In the area of family law, there is at least one statistic that most everyone can recite from memory: 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. While this number has fluctuated somewhat over the years, the simple truth remains that half of married couples will likely end up parting ways despite taking such seemingly productive measures as trial separations or marriage counseling.

Interestingly, one family law attorney has now offered a new idea that he believes will help lower the overall divorce rate here in the U.S., and allow couples to part ways both amicably and cleanly.

The idea, which is an amalgam of both family law and real estate law, is something called a "wedlease."

In basic terms, a wedlease would function much like a traditional real estate lease in that spouses would agree to enter into a marriage for a set amount of time (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc.), and have the option of renewing the marriage however many times they wish.

If the couple determines that their marriage is simply not working, they could elect not to renew their wedlease upon its expiration and part company.

"The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit," writes attorney Paul Rampell.

Other highlights of the wedlease would include:

  • Couples would clearly establish separate ownership of all property before signing the wedlease, and maintain a separate schedule of items purchased together during the marriage; Here, they could consult the list and decide how they wanted to handle any possible division of the property as the marriage term progresses.
  • Couples could write in a provision, which declares that if they have any children, the term of the marriage is automatically extended until the children reach the age of 18.
  • Couples could put down security deposits with a third party that are payable in the event one partner wants out of the marriage and even appoint this third party to arbitrate any legal disputes.

While this is an interesting idea that certainly makes for good conversations among attorneys, the wedlease will likely will never become a reality here in Minnesota or across the U.S. due to a variety of considerations both legal and political. Still, what are your thoughts on wedleases? Do you think they would actually work?

Source: The Washington Post, "A high divorce rate means it's time to try "wedleases,'" Paul Rampell, August 4, 2013      

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