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Temporary marriages: The 'radical' way to lower divorce rates

Mexico's capital considers a proposal that would give unhappily married people a much easier way out

Till the end of this two-year contract do us part? Such a scenario might become a reality in Mexico City, where lawmakers have come up with a "radical" way to combat rising divorce rates: They're considering a proposal to let couples get hitched for a couple of years and then simply go their separate ways if things don't work out. Here's what you should know:

How would these temporary marriages work?The bride and groom would sign a marriage contract for a specified period, as short as two years. Once the time expired, the couple could renew and commit to each other for life, or split up without the red tape of a conventional divorce. "If the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends," said Leonel Luna, a member of the Left's Party of the Democratic Revolution, who sits on the Mexico City Assembly and co-authored the bill.

Why make splitting up easier?Roughly half of the city's marriages end in divorce, and most breakups occur in the first two years of marriage. The lengthy, often nasty divorce proceedings are choking local courts, so politicians want to revise the civil code to make getting out of a bad marriage easier on everybody. And the short-term marriage contracts would also serve as prenuptial agreements, spelling out who gets custody of children and how joint possessions and money would be divvied up.

Is the idea going over well?Not exactly. Conservatives, particularly in Mexico's Roman Catholic Church, say the city's liberal leaders, who legalized gay marriage last year, are being "irresponsible and immoral." The Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Mexico City archdiocese, says the idea cheapens marriage. "This is a proposal made by people who do not understand the nature of marriage," Valdemar said, as quoted by the Associated Press. "It is not a commercial contract; it is a contract between two people for a life project, and the creation of a family." But Carlos Torres, spokesman for one of the bill's sponsors, says nobody has to opt for a short trial union. "People can specify terms of 99 years, or 'till death do us part,'" he said, "if they think the marriage, or their lives, are going to last that long."

SourcesAssociated PressReuters, SalonTIMEYahoo! News

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