Links for October 27th

  • The Guardian: Mexico City considers fixed-term marriage licences
    The city is considering offering two-year marriage licenses. Couples would get married, and two years later their marriage contract would end, though they could, of course, renew it. Why? Because so many marriages end after two years, requiring an expensive and trying divorce. I've been forecasting limited term marriage licenses for years, but I never would have guessed that it might start in the heavily Catholic Mexico.
  • CNet: Was legal site rewrite a liberal plot? Not quite.
    Justia made a mistake in a regular expression (I made the same mistake last week), resulting in some SCOTUS rulings going missing from their website. The conspiracy-theory responses are remarkable, especially the bizarre call for a criminal investigation. Justia is a private site—they're free to exclude any rulings for any (or no) reason!
  • Nest
    I am embarrassingly excited about this thermostat. I've put a lot of thought into thermostat design over the past few years, convinced that they could both look and function a great deal better than the best models currently available. (In my new home, we got top-flight ones installed, and they're still ugly and work poorly.) The Nest Learning Thermostat is quite a bit more advanced than anything I'd imagined. One more feature I'd like: the ability to detect the presence of people in the home based on whether their phone is on the WiFi network.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

10 replies on “Links for October 27th”

  1. Why on Earth would they include a designer screwdriver with Nest? So weird.

    The overall idea is pretty good. Not sure how it would compare with my household’s programmable thermostat, though — might not be much of an improvement.

  2. I don’t see the difference between a 2 year marriage license and a pre-nup agreement. Other than the obvious 2 year limit on the license. A pre-nup could last longer or shorter period of time. The license doesn’t address assets gained in the 2 year time frame or children born during that period. According to the article, it just dissolves the marriage, but doesn’t address the other issues. I don’t see the point. Don’t get married or if you do, get a pre-nup. Am I missing something more obvious?

  3. I don’t see the difference between a 2 year marriage license and a pre-nup agreement.

    I think there are a few differences. The first that a divorce requires a court visit, and can be expensive, whereas a two-year marriage license requires nothing of the sort. The second is that a pre-nuptial agreement requires an attorney. And the third is that this is just meeting market demand. What is “Coke with Lime” offering that you can’t get by buying both Coke and a lime? Not a thing, but when enough people are putting lime in their Coke, it only makes sense. With Mexico City courts apparently clogged with divorces after two years of marriage, there’s a certain sense in simply offering marriages that expire after two years.

    Interestingly, this is duplicating something done in parts of the Shia Islam, “Nikāḥ al-Mutʿah,” a practice that long pre-dates Islam. Apparently this is sometimes used to justify prostitution, by simply getting married for a term of an hour or so, having sex, and letting the marriage expire.

  4. I wonder though, how many couples who actually want to get married would do that. I mean, yeah, temporary marriages are big, but my understanding is that they are particularly popular because of the rise of extremist Islam–the more conservative the country gets, the younger folks who would normally date, have sex, break up eventually, and move on, can’t really do that–so they get temporarily married. It’s a work-around not being able to date. Or get a hooker.

    In my experience, when we try to get clients to consider pre-nups, many can’t see that bad things will happen down the road–they love each other, and would never get divorced. And imagine the arguments when one of you wants a permanent license and the other wants a two-year. Eep. I suppose you could bargain that away, or the state could have some sort of “if you re-new your license X amount of times, you get Y benefit,” but still. Aaaawkward.

  5. Thanks Waldo for those points, but I think Genevieve hits more at what I was trying to say. Most folks don’t go into marriage expecting just a 2 year relationship. However you make some other valid points that its a way around living together w/out being in a long term relationship. I’m still not sold on the need for the 2 year permit, but I hear what you’re saying…

  6. HES, I think you’re both right about that—this is a pretty bold proposal, and it’s in no way clear that society (in Mexico City or otherwise) is ready for this. My guess is that people might do this if they’re not totally sure that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. People who feel like they’re in a committed relationship…but might just want some training wheels. These might be people who would otherwise have gotten married but shouldn’t have, or perhaps they’d be people who wouldn’t have gotten married at all.

    If this bill passes, the resulting data will be really fascinating.

  7. If you had a “like” button, I would have pressed like on your last comment and moved on. But, you don’t, so I’ll just say I agree. :)

  8. Re: the marriage deal. The article doesn’t have a lot of detail. Are divorces clogging Mexico City courts? Do they cost the state a relatively great deal of money? On the face of it, if half of marriages there are ending in divorce, it would not appear to be terribly difficult to get divorced (unless the other half is trapped without an easy out, though this law would do nothing for them anyway). The start of the article says that it is to make exiting the relationship easier on newlyweds. But that seems like a solution in search of a problem. Again 50% of married folks in Mexico City don’t seem to have a problem getting out of it.

    If people want to form short-term contracts, why is the state necessary here? This brings up a lot of questions about what is the state’s interest in marriage. I thought it was to promote long term if not life long commitments for the purpose of community stability and cohesiveness, cultural continuity and preservation. If the state has no guiding principle here, why bother issuing marriage licenses at all?

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