Limited contract marriages

Why are marriage contracts for life? Why not have 5, 10 or 25 year contracts that are easily renewable, alongside the traditional “Til death do us part” standard edition?

Because marriages were initially recognized and were under the authority of the Church. Limited duration marriages probably wouldn’t meet the guidelines for a marriage recognized by the Church.

As far as within the eyes of the State…your idea would probably be met with a mixed reception.

Because we decided to go with no-fault divorce, making dissoultion of the partnership a simple matter.

Historically, given the limited employment opportunities available to women, it would partly have been to prevent older women from being left without means of support and thus becoming public charges.

I think it doesn’t get any traction because this is a solution in search of a problem. The difficulty in ending a marriage isn’t usually getting the state to agree, it’s in disentangling the property, the kids, the affections, the anger, the everything else that goes with a marriage.

Having the state’s involvement just provides a default framework for property and other rights, which allows some people (not all) to feel more comfortable and secure in doing more involved, joint, property transactions. They might feel they can buy a house together because marriage feels more stable than living together, for example. Or maybe they’re willing to have children together for the same reason.

A time-limited marriage doesn’t solve the issue of divorce, it just rephrases it. Instead of being the end of the marriage, the marriage would be over but the hard work (emotional, family, children, property) would still be there needing to be done.

OP: What precisely do you need to contract anyway? Simply don’t get married.

For certain values of simple.

Simpler than when adultery or abandonment needed to be proven.

Marriage is several thousand years older than “the Church”, it exists in societies where the closer they come to organized religion is “I leave a little bit of food out for Grandpa’s Ghost when I think of him”.

This. And while it’s tempting to argue that the beauty of a limited contract marriage is that you would decide in advance how to do all that, in reality I don’t think it would work. A lot of unexpected things happen in 10, 15, 25 years. Any original agreement would have to be adapted. It’s possible, of course, to have a general agreement and, at the end, work out the details in the spirit of the original. But I would hold that any couple capable of doing that in a friendly and mutually cooperative fashion 1) probably would be extending the contract anyway and 2) if not, would have been capable of cheerfully negotiating an agreement from scratch. For normal separating couples, both might well feel they were negotiating in good faith but that the other is totally abusing the spirit of the agreement, that asshole.

Also, what good is a defined time limit? If I decide I don’t like this jerk, I want out now–I don’t want to wait 3 years (or, hell, six months) for the contract to run out. On the other hand, if we are happy together I want to extend it. You could make it impossible to “no-fault” dissolve a limited contract marriage, but what possible benefit is that to society?

What problem are we trying to solve with a limited term agreement?

As simple as dissolving a total commingling of lives is going to get, anyway. Sure, you’re still going to have to sort out how to deal with the house, and who takes which car, and who has the kids when, and is that TV that was bought with household money but only one of you watches personal or household property and and and. But it’s not like limited term marriages is going to solve that. (Neither would not getting married in the first place, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

Actually, it came up because I’ve read a lot of science fiction over the years, and the concept of a contracted limited marriage came up quite frequently, usually spelling out a five or ten year renewable contract and(usually in the case of multi-partner marriages) the exact responsibilities of each party. Some stories even got into investments and buy-out clauses written into the contract.