News / Ottawa

Scared to put a ring on it? Would a short-term marriage contract change your mind?

If the thought of uttering “’til death do us part” gives you a case of commitment phobia, maybe a short-term marriage would suit you best.

Véronique Laliberté, a masters student in law at the University of Ottawa, wants to tweak marriage laws to include a fixed term, with an option to renew.

It’s kind of like signing a deal with a cell phone provider.

  Véronique Laliberté, a masters student the University of Ottawa, is proposing a new, short-term marriage. Also pictured is her partner, Francys-Roch Bisson.

Véronique Laliberté, a masters student the University of Ottawa, is proposing a new, short-term marriage. Also pictured is her partner, Francys-Roch Bisson.

“That’s really romantic, right?” Laliberté said with a laugh.

But, you could argue, undying love is dying out. According to Statistics Canada, there were about 70,000 divorces every year between 2001 and 2008.

The point of a fixed-term marriage is to avoid the hassle of divorcing through court, explained Laliberté. Say a couple wants to marry, but decides on a pre-nuptial agreement in case the relationship crumbles. Once the arranged fixed term is up, they could end the relationship, renew it for a second term or do nothing, at which point the pre-nup conditions would be void.

It’s like a plan to untangle the knot before it’s tied.

“I would like to make it – not easier, but simpler. Less complicated,” Laliberté said.

She was awarded the 2013-2014 Haykal-Sater prize for the best French-language thesis at her school. And she and her partner tried a three-month relationship contract that has so far ended well. They have been together for a little over a year.

She’s not the first to conceive of a short-term marriage.

In 2011, Mexico City politicians introduced two-year temporary marriage licenses that were mandatory before the real deal. It was up for debate in Germany in 2007, but for a seven-year term. It has yet to be enacted in law.

Judy Kiar, an individual, couple and family therapist in Ottawa, said this type of relationship might work for some couples, but said it undermines the hard work a lifelong marriage requires.

“Oftentimes, people think that things should come easy and so if it’s hard maybe it’s not meant to be,” she said. “But the reality is, there’s something to be said for working at something and seeing it evolve into something better, rather than just having a change-partners mentality.”

Laliberté is considering pursuing her PhD on the topic and bring it into law. She hopes to be the first in Canada to legally say “I do” to a short-term marriage.

[polldaddy poll=8219180]

Metro asked: What do you think of short-term marriages?

 - Chris Whitecross, 51

- Chris Whitecross, 51

 - Bradley Freda, 32

- Bradley Freda, 32

 - Marc Vaillant, 60

- Marc Vaillant, 60

 - Morgan Vallieres, 16

- Morgan Vallieres, 16

Don't miss

Ottawa Neighbourhoods