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Contract offers leasing approach to marriage, divorce

Readers may have read about prenuptial agreements, which some commentators might credit with improving a couple’s chances of staying together. The terms of that contract are limited only by the bounds of the couple’s creativity and the law. For example, couples might address issues like preexisting financies and security holdings, contingencies regarding future children and attendant child support issues, and a blueprint for dividing the marital estate in the event of a divorce.

A new device in family law might cause some readers to question whether creative contract drafting might have gone too far. Called wedleases, the approach involves a couple contractually agreeing -- in writing -- to a defined marriage term. The length of the term is set by the couple, and could be as short as a few months or a year. At the end of that defined period, the couple may renew the marital lease, or choose to go their separate ways.

The approach might actually be similar to a prenuptial agreement in several ways, including proactive instructions for property division, in the event the couple decides to part ways. A wedlease might even be preferable to a prenuptial agreement, perhaps being less susceptible to challenges of unfairness than a prenuptial agreement.

Although some readers might regard a lease approach to marriage as unromantic, a divorce attorney might argue the opposite. Such a contract ensures that a couple is staying together voluntarily, evidenced by each lease renewal. As with any contract, its terms may also be modified as the couple’s needs and lifestyle changes. For example, if children were not addressed in the original lease, a divorce or family law might offer advice as to additional terms to include.

Source: knau.org, “Would Some Marriages Be Better If Couples Signed 'Wedleases'?” Mark Memmott, Aug. 13, 2013

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