Officials in Mexico City are considering a new way to address the city's high divorce rates: by making marriages temporary.
Couples would be allowed to decide on the length of their marriage (minimum license: two years), and the contracts would contain prenup-like legalese about financial support, how marital assets would be divided, and who gets custody of the kids. At the end of the contract, happy (or semi-happy) couples could opt to renew for another two years, while those who are tired of being together could simply walk away without a legal hassle.
"The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends," Leonel Luna of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, who co-authored the bill, told Reuters. "You wouldn't have to go through the tortuous process of divorce."
Mexico has the second-largest Catholic population in the world (after Brazil) and, needless to say, the Catholic Church isn't too keen on the idea of temporary marriages.
"This reform is absurd. It contradicts the nature of marriage," said Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Mexican archdiocese. "It's another one of these electoral theatrics the assembly tends to do that are irresponsible and immoral."
The last bit of "electoral theatrics" launched by the liberal ruling Party of the Democratic Revolution was in 2009, when they infuriated conservatives by legalizing gay marriage in Mexico City.
Temporary marriages are legal in Iran, where they can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a lifetime. They're considered a loophole in Islamic law, which decrees that sex outside of marriage is a crime punishable by whipping (or, in cases of adultery, death), though some call it a form of Koran-sanctioned prostitution. No word on whether temporary marriages affect the divorce rate there, but liberal politicians in Mexico City are counting on the proposed change in the civil code to bring their own numbers down.
Though the divorce rate in the rest of Mexico are quite low, they have been going up, and about half of the marriages in Mexico City end in divorce within the first two years, Reuters reported. Other sources say the rate is much higher: Lizbeth Rosas, another member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution and a sponsor of the bill, told the Mexican newspaper El Universal that eight out of 10 couples in Mexico City eventually get divorced.
"I know it's controversial," Rosas told El Universal, "but it seeks to support and strengthen family bonds."
Also on Shine:
- Why is the divorce rate so much higher in the South?
- Is distance key to a happy marriage?
- Are you stuck in a semi-happy marriage?
- Would ending child support make marriages last longer? A divorced mom's perspective
- Should I stay or should I go: The divorce dilemma
- Obedient Wives Club blames social ills on women who aren't good sex workers to their husbands