Mexico’s Marriage Contracts

Not too many innovations come out of Mexico’s ruling white elite, but this legislation seems to fit the bill.

The left-leaning assembly is studying a new initiative to introduce temporary marriage licenses that would expire after two years if the couple so desires.

The proposal, intended to reduce the bureaucratic costs and emotional toll of divorce, has garnered as many fans as foes: Some see it as a pragmatic alternative, while others, including the Roman Catholic Church, see it as an attack on family values. It comes as Mexico grapples with its own culture war in the world’s second-largest Catholic country. […]

To its authors, the proposal reflects social changes in Mexico City, where they say most divorces occur in the first two years. If after two years, couples decide to [stay married] until “death do us part,” they can renew their licenses. If not, the proposal specifies how children and property are handled.

“The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends,” Leonel Luna, the assemblyman who co-wrote the bill, told Reuters. “You wouldn’t have to go through the tortuous process of divorce.”

Divorce is now woven into the cultural fabric of most modern and modernizing nations. It’s entrenched, and while rates seem to be leveling off in the US, there is no indication that lifelong marital vows are making a comeback. In fact, the lower, and later, rates of first marriage are  likely the primary cause of the leveling of the divorce rate: with fewer couples getting hitched, and fewer still getting hitched at a young age when options are highest and instability is greatest, there are fewer bad marriages coming to fruition and boosting the divorce rate. Selection bias.

The marriage contract is a last-ditch attempt to address the ill effects of the divorce culture, and it may be a lifesaver for Western men who have been getting the ass ramming end of divorce court since the 1970s. Wifey drifting away and implicitly threatening you with theft of your house and half your savings? Just opt out when the two year contract hits its renewal date. Marriage still going strong (i.e., wifey still gobbling your knob)? Renew, baby! For another two.

I even wonder whether children would suffer any more under a marriage contract system than the no-fault, female rape-y one we have now. If you’ve got a couple of kids and you’re on your second marital renewal at four years, is the amicable opting out of the marriage any worse than the rending of a surprise divorce? Naysayers may argue that marriage contracts encourage abandonment, but I dunno about that. It’s a good bet that societal shaming mechanisms would organically come into place that limit the ease with which spouses turn to leaving contracts. And it’s kind of like abortion: when you know you have that option to end the marriage after two years, you are probably more likely to be relaxed (read: more alpha, sexier) with your partner and therefore more inclined to do the exact opposite of behaving in a way that the contract system is designed to mitigate.

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