What if marriage was like leasing a car?
After a couple years, you could renew the relationship or just walk away, with no fuss.
A Florida lawyer says now might be the time to consider short-term marriages. In other words: a wed lease.
We've been reporting for years about a divorce rate hovering around 50-percent. A staggering percentage when you consider holy matrimony is supposed to last until one spouse dies. But could a shorter term, a trial-like pre-marriage lower the divorce rate, and make for better unions?
"But he didn't propose until a year after we ...," said Shea Lacey.
"But I knew ...," said Fred Loving.
Loving knew he wanted to marry Lacey within weeks of reconnecting with her two years ago. It had been 20 years since they attended high school together, without ever really noticing each other. Now, they're planning to spend the rest of their lives together.
"To always have that bond with your best friend to go through life with, and to have that blessing from God," Lacey told FOX13 News.
It will be marriage No. 2 for both. Neither of them are shy about making that lifetime commitment again, which brings us to a radical idea from a Florida lawyer named Paul Rampell. He would like an option to traditional marriages.
The wed-lease would redefine the legal structure of marriage, treating it like a real estate deal.
The wed lease would be like an apartment lease, with clearly defined terms: who cooks and cleans; are there pets in the house?; how much sex in the marriage?; number of years together.
Sound too radical? Sound too funny? Well don't laugh.
"The state of Tennessee has defined marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, and everything you read in the state statutes refers to marriage as a contract," said family law attorney Lee-Ann Dobson.
Dobson has seen many Mid-South marriages end up in divorce court for all kinds of reasons. So, since marriage is already a contract, redefine or clearly define the terms? After two or three years, the parties could terminate or renew the contract, just like an apartment lease.
"The children would definitely outlive the term of any wed-lease," she said. "So that's something you'd really have to look at and decide and work on to deal with that part of it. Because children are so much more than property."
Rampell said if a child entered the picture, the lease would automatically extend until the child turned 18.
"It would be inconsistent with Scripture," said Rev. Dwight Montgomery of Annesdale Cherokee Baptist Church.
Rev. Montgomery has performed many marriages and said the wed lease idea is a non-starter. Marriage is an institution established by God.
"Marriage is a sacred institution and when one makes that commitment, one ought to keep that commitment," she said.
Loving agrees. Despite having gone through a divorce already, he says he would never consider a wed lease.
"It's like you have an exit strategy already, so why even get married?," he asked. "It's a waste of time. So if you don't feel like you can spend the rest of your life with that person don't even go through with it. It's not like a car, after 36,000 miles I'm going to trade it in for another car. No, it don't even work like that."
The conventional structure of marriage doesn't work for everybody. Just look at the divorce rate and the rise of same sex unions. But defining marriage similar to an apartment lease?
"while the State of Tennessee defines marriage as a contract, there's so much more to marriage," Dobson said. "The emotion, the family, the accrued wealth, the rearing of children, the spiritual side of it, all of this cannot and is not regulated by the State of Tennessee and very had to put into a contract."
Interesting idea. None of the people FOX13 News talked to think the wed lease is something lawmakers in any of the Southern states will consider or should consider. As for Fred and Shea, they are planning to tie the knot the old fashioned way in October.