From time to time, politicians think they can solve the problem of expensive, drawn-out divorces by creating new laws.
Some of these laws have been, for example, no-fault divorce, joint custody and automatically splitting community property 50/50. Trust me, those laws don't necessarily save you time or money if you're getting divorced. In fact, they usually create more litigation.
Well, a politician is taking another crack at it. A Mexico City legislator has proposed creating "test marriages" -- two-year renewable marriage licenses. Mexican lawmaker Leonel Luna's plan is an attempt to ease the often "tortuous process of divorce" and limit expensive legal fees. And, Luna says, the proposal aims to be realistic since most marriages don't last till death do us part. Under the proposal, if the marriage isn't working out after two years it expires. That's it. No need for court.
In theory, Luna is not completely off base. Most marriages do end in divorce. Divorce can be an emotionally painful and bank account-draining affair. Some people get married when they shouldn't and stay miserably married because it's too expensive to get divorced.
But if you think that if marriage was more like, say, a city sticker or drivers' license that it would save you from having any legal problems, you've probably had too much tequila.
Even not getting married doesn't prevent litigation. Look at all the paternity cases, breach of promise claims and even disputes between live-in couples that end up before a judge.
The renewable marriage law wouldn't necessarily save you a dime. In fact, I think it would create significantly more problems if your marriage lapsed automatically.
Think about this: What might happen under the Luna Law if you want to stay married, but forget to renew your marriage license the way people sometimes forget to renewing their driver's license?
That could lead to multiple scenarios other than divorce that might require the services of an expensive lawyer.
For instance, if you forget to renew your marriage license and continue to file tax returns as a married couple --when legally the marriage ended -- that could lead to an audit and possibly require payment of restitution and fines. You'll probably need a tax lawyer for that.
Or if you wind up in the hospital and your spouse's company health insurance provider finds out your marriage was nullified because the license wasn't renewed, you might be on the hook for paying all the doctor bills. Appealing that decision might require a lawyer's help.
And problems could even arise after your spouse dies. Imagine if your husband's will states all his assets and life insurance proceeds be given to his surviving spouse. Well, if your marriage license was not renewed before he died, legally there wouldn't be a surviving spouse. Trying to prove you were married would become a legal issue. You probably would need a lawyer for that, too.
You get the idea. Putting an expiration date on marriage wouldn't save you money or hassle if things don't work out.
But if the Luna Law gets passed the consequences could be more painful for couples than a case of Montezuma's Revenge.