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Charles's avatar

Should marriage licenses have expiration dates?

Asked by Charles (4823points) April 14th, 2012

For example, licenses would last a year, or two, or whatever. Then if the couple wanted to continue being married that they had to pay to renew their license each year.
What do you think? Should marriage licenses expire? And if so how long should they last? What are your reasons for thinking this way?

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12 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

The idea of an optional time limit for marriages was proposed in Mexico

I don’t like the idea for having to pay each year for the license, but as I see it marriage is a contract, and it should have the same options as any other contract. However, I would stipulate that both partners are responsible for the well being of any children born in the marriage, regardless of whether they are still married.

marinelife's avatar

Why? Marriage is supposed to be mating for life. We already have a process for ending it: divorce.

Charles's avatar

For the average marriage which lasts seven years, it would be cheaper to renew seven times and then not renew, than it would be to get divorced.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think they should have expiration dates. If the couple no longer wants to be married, divorce is an option. I don’t think we should have to pay to renew our marriage on a regular basis when it was a decision we made based on being together for the long term. Yes, marriages fail sometimes, but setting up a system where they are only good for ‘x’ number of years just seems like setting up a system for them to end much more often.

Would the couple have to have a ceremony every year or so to renew their vows along with their marriage license? The marriage license is only one part of the actual marriage ceremony. Officials (be it Justice of the Peace or the church clergyman) charge fees to perform the services as well. Putting an expiration date on their marriage license seems like you would also be putting an expiration date on their vows.

What about the effects this could have on families? If people go into marriage with the mindset of “hey, it’s only for two years, we’ll see what happens”, it just seems to set people up for not having lasting marriages. That’s not the mindset I would want for my husband and certainly not the mindset people should be having when considering starting to have children together.

@Charles As for your theory that renewing for seven years would be cheaper than getting a divorce, my divorce only cost $75 (my ex-husband walked out and didn’t contest the divorce). My marriage license (and the fee for the official that performed the ceremony) was more than that and if the renewal was the same as the initial fee, it would end up being a lot more than my divorce was (based on the 7 year example you gave above).

lonelydragon's avatar

Rather than making all couples go through the hassle of a yearly renewal, why not simply make divorces easier to obtain for those who want them?

wundayatta's avatar

It’s never going to be easy to dissolve a marriage, whether or not it has annual renewals or expiration dates or some kind of easy divorce. Divorce is not easy. You have to change all your life arrangements. Someone has to move out. Someone has to set up a new household. You have to negotiation the separation of all property. You still have to take care of the kids.

Yes, someone could run away, I suppose. You could make a sudden break. But that is still going to be difficult, even for the runner. Life will change completely. That is not easy, no matter what. Even if you are irresponsible. And if you are responsible, it is most definitely going to be hard, especially if there are kids.

I have thought about divorce, but I’m a lazy guy. It’s far easier to try to make things work than it would be to try to break apart. There would have to be a super huge benefit for divorce to make me even begin to consider it.

filmfann's avatar

I have asked my wife of 27 years: “When do I get paroled?”
She doesn’t think that is as funny as I do.

Marriage is meant to be eternal. It often doesn’t make it, but that is the intent. Why else would it be a big deal?
If it were temporary, people would be more likely to marry someone they aren’t committed to.

john65pennington's avatar

Lonelydragon, divorces are already too easy to obtain. This is why 45% of marriages end in a divorce.

The laws were changed to make this possible. Too much domestic violence was the reason for the change.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I can just envision that annual conversation between married couples:

Partner #1: “The marriage renewal notice came in the mail today. What do you want to do?”
Partner #2’s potential responses:
a.) “Of course! I’m hurt that you would even ask!”
b.) “If you agree to stop doing (annoying habit), then go ahead and mail the check in.”
c.) “Well, now that you bring the topic up…”
The list is endless.

So, should a marriage license have an expiration date? Technically, they already do. The agreement includes “Until death do us part”, at least in the Christian world. I don’t know about other religions and civil ceremonies. Is this sentiment included?

My vote is ‘no’, that it shouldn’t have an expiration date, It would generate more paperwork for governments, and they have more important things to focus on.

lonelydragon's avatar

@john65pennington I respectfully disagree. If divorce is too difficult to obtain, then all you end up with is two resentful people who are stuck together. Barring people from getting a divorce will not magically make them fall in love again. Divorce is a terrible thing, yes, but forcing two acrimonious people to stay together and inflict misery on each other (and on any children they have), is the greater evil, in my view.

@wundayatta I wasn’t saying that separating should be as easy as saying, “I divorce you” three times, but, in theory, I don’t believe it should be any more difficult than getting married is. Of course, the issue of shared property does complicate things…

Seek's avatar

I don’t know about all that, but I would agree with instituting the old Celtic tradition of the “Year and a day” trial marriage.

And if, at the end of a year and a day, you decide to separate, you part in peace and no one thinks the worse of you for it.

ratboy's avatar

Yes, it should. In addition a license with stringent requirements should be required for procreation. Finally, no couple should receive a marriage license prior to successfully completing a supervised probationary period with a learner’s permit.

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