WeDo Marriage® Limited Dublin, Ireland www.wedomarriage.com A new way of marrying, a better type of marriage
About our team … Known each other for ten years. Shared a common goal forged by common experiences. Been developing our product for past two years. We’ve: Brendan Munnelly // Author of Computer Books Track record in curriculum origination and development Sam Carroll // Shared Parenting Advocate Background in activism and advocacy Niall Brennan // Renewable Energy Engineer Professional experience and expertise in contract law Books Guy Parenting Guy Windmills Guy
Marriage: virtually extinct? Marriage is doomed and will be virtually extinct within 30 years. Ironically, the prediction comes from Relate, which used to be called the Marriage Guidance Council. Duncan White, who is in charge of Relate's 2,000 counsellors, believes that only one in five of long-term couples will be married by 2030, and at least eight in ten births will be outside marriage. ‘ It (marriage) will be seen as an esoteric choice rather than the norm’. Sarah Harris, Daily Mail, 20/04/2002
Marriage: terminal decline? Marriage is in terminal decline , Government figures showed yesterday. By 2031 40% of men and 35% of women aged 54 in England and Wales would not have married. Daily Telegraph 30/09/2005
Marriage: as popular as ever! Proportion who choose 'married with children' as their preferred lifestyle choice. Family and Marriage Poll, Mori, Britain (1999) 68 % 90 % Proportion of young people who wanted to get married at some point. People’s Lives in Britain Today, Opinion Research Business (2000) Proportion of teens who 'believed in marriage'. Online survey for the Bliss magazine , Britain (2004) 92 % Proportion who support tax breaks for married couples. Centre for Social Justice Poll, Britain (2007) 80 %
Clarity Confusion Fewer people than ever are marrying. As many people as ever say they want to marry. ?
The marriage contract “ Husband and wife are bound by an unwritten contract of marriage governed by laws of the state and the decisions of the judiciary. Every bride and groom must learn that the state is at the altar with them. You would never sign a contract without reading it or seeking an attorney's advice. No options are offered, no negotiation allowed, and no warranties extended, express or implied, when you say ‘ I do ’ . O ften, it isn't until death or dissolution of the relationship that couples find how intrusive the state-controlled marriage laws can be." Dr. Johnette Duff , The Marriage Handbook “ Marriage is the most important contract, for ourselves and for the wider world, that most of us will make, yet men and women sign up to it without mentioning the terms of the contract, still less examining them.” The Sunday Times (July 11, 2004) “ When you repeat your marriage vows, you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that legal contract: 1) you; 2) your spouse; and 3) the state of Ohio.” Ohio State Bar Association “ M arriage differs from ordinary common law contracts, and is subject to control and regulation by the state." Blackman v. Iles, 4 N.J. 82, 89
Three’s a crowd … “ There are three partners in marriage … I refer to the two people concerned and to the state .. society or the community as a whole. The House of Commons is the centre of law-making for that community. It is, therefore, a triangular arrangement and not just one between two people. ” Nigel Spearing MP, House of Commons, 24 Apr 1996
Contracts compared (1) No oversight (State marriage contracts are exempt from established standards applicable to ordinary contracts.) Regulatory oversight (Bad contracts can be set aside by courts on grounds such as gross unfairness, mis-selling, hidden clauses, etc.) Terms unwritten. No small print. No print of any kind! (Just sign here. Trust us.) Contract terms written down (Couple can know what they’re getting. Can get legal advice on terms.) Terms fixed by state. (Even by laws not yet enacted.) (Couple can take it or leave it.) Couple can negotiate terms of contract with supplier (Supplier wants the couple’s business.) Single monopoly supplier (Monopolies elevate supplier’s interests over those of consumer. No innovation.) Couple can shop for best deal (Competition reduces cost to consumer and promotes innovation, extra features.) Couple seek marriage (State marriage contract) Couple seek mortgage (Ordinary contract)
Contracts compared (2) Contract cannot end (Separation or divorce do not end financial transfers between contract parties.) Contract can end (Most contracts have a fixed term and reach an end date.) Cannot switch supplier (State is monopoly supplier.) Can switch to better contract (Couple move to alternative supplier.) Contract unlimited in scope. (Everything – home, income, pension, children – falls within scope.) Contract limited in scope. (‘Your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments.’) Contract not legally binding. (Contract can ‘break down’ with no fault.) Contract is legally binding (A deal’s a deal. Failure to meet terms will mean loss of contractual benefits.) Couple seek marriage (State marriage contract) Couple seek mortgage (Ordinary contract)
A state marriage includes a marriage contract between three parties.
The terms of contract are not written down, and cannot be negotiated between the couple.
The state is the dominant party to the contract, and is free to impose it own terms on the couple.
The contract is not binding between the couple, but is binding between each member of the couple and the state.
The marriage contract is exempt from normal contractual standards.
The contract is ended only by death .
End of part one “ Ask not why people are reluctant to marry, but ask why anyone is still getting married at all!” Apologies to JFK!
“ In all industries innovation starts by o bserving c ustomers. ” www.trendhunter.com
Cohabitation =new marriage? “ The number of cohabiting couples, estimated to be 2.0 million in 2003, is projected to almost double to 3.8 million by 2031. ” 2003-based marital status and cohabitation projections for England and Wales Office of National Statistics, UK
Cohabitation contracts “ A living together agreement isn’t just about breaking up, it’s about how you will live together. Making the agreement prompts you to discuss how your living together will work in practice and what your expectations of each other are. In fact many of the couples we’ve spoken to say that they found that just making the agreement strengthened their relationship. (You) could have it written by a solicitor as a formal legal ‘deed’. If you did this it would be legally binding in the same way as any legal contract between two parties. ”
“ It is an anomalous position that husbands and wives are unable to bind themselves with a contractual pre-marital/ partnership agreement, whereas cohabitants can.”
Resolution, (formerly the ‘ Solicitors Family Law Association ’) March 2004
Cohabitation v. marriage No oversight (Family law courts with ‘special’ procedures have jurisdiction over contract.) Ordinary courts (Ordinary courts with ‘standard’ procedures have jurisdiction over contract.) No contract standards (Usual contractual standards do not apply to marriage contract.) Contract must be compliant (Usual and well-established contractual standards apply to cohabitation contract.) Couple cannot negotiate terms of contract. (Terms imposed by family law of state.) Couple can negotiate terms of contract with each other. (Couple has ‘freedom to contract’.) Three parties to relationship. (State is ‘dominant party’ to marriage.) Two parties to relationship (State not a party to relationship.) State and Married Couple (State marriage contract) State and Cohabiting Couple (Ordinary contract)
But no ‘ marriage premium’ Across wide range of criteria – relationship stability, health, longevity, income, assets, partner abuse and life satisfaction – cohabiting couples more closely resemble single people. Cohabitation is not functionally equivalent to marriage .
Cohabitation: what’s missing? “ M arriage is not just a label, it remains a transformative act – marriage not only names a relationship but it creates a relationship between two people, one that is acknowledged, not just by the couple itself, but by the couple's kin, friends, community, and larger society." Linda J. Waite, Professor in Urban Sociology , University of Chicago
Some new thinking (1) “ I propose we replace divorce laws with compulsory marriage contracts. Such contracts would require men and women to assume responsibility for the main terms of their marriage and its breakup. They would allow couples to tailor the terms of marriage and divorce to their particular needs. ” Wh y Every Married Couple Should Sign a Contract Business Week, December 29 Gary S. Becker University Professor Department of Economics and Sociology Professor Graduate School of Business The University of Chicago Nobel prize in Economics, 1992
Some new thinking (2) “ Why is marriage declining? I believe one reason is because marriage has become a three-way contract between two people and the government, which is regulated by the state from wedding vows to divorce decrees. Marriage should be privatized. Let people make their own marriage contracts according to their conscience, religion and common sense. Their diversity shouldn't affect their legality any more than the diversity of other contracts makes them unenforceable. ” Wendy McElroy iFeminists.com July, 2002
Some new thinking (3) Subject to certain statutory constraints, business people have long been free to form whatever sort of partnership they felt appropriate to their needs. Why not make the same possible for marriage? Couples entering into marriage should be able to use a partnership agreement that is tailored to their own circumstances and aspirations, and that reflects the values and expectations that they themselves attach to marriage. ” January 22, 2006 Colin PA Jones , US lawyer and Professor at Doshisha University Law School, Kyoto, Japan “ A fundamental problem with marriage is that it is a monopoly product supplied by the government.
Some new thinking (4) “ With a pre-arranged custody schedule outlined before marriage, children wouldn't have to witness their parents arguing about the details, or, worse, be required to testify in court. Besides, conversations about custody between two newly engaged people could give them both a window on what their future spouse will be like – and what he or she will expect as a parent. ” July 16, 2007 James Andrew Miller, author, screenwriter
And some old thinking! “ This afternoon I enter into a matrimonial agreement with Mary Jane Robinson, a young person whose opinions on all important subjects, whose mode of thinking and feeling, coincide more intimately with my own than do those of any other individual with whom I am acquainted ... This ceremony involves not the necessity...of repeating forms which we deem offensive, insomuch as they outrage the principles of human liberty and equality . Of the unjust right which the ( formal marriage ) ceremony gives me over the person and property of another, I can not legally, but I can morally divest myself. ” Robert Owen, 1880
End of part two “ Go on offense. Give everybody a shot. Decentralize. Try a bunch of stuff. Make it up as you go along. Get some stuff wrong. Laugh a lot. Get some stuff right. Who knows, you might get lucky … ” Life 101: A 40-year Reflection Tom Peters
Say hello to … The world’s first marital corporation . WeDo Marriage® Limited
A bright future … “ Of course, it will be impractical to expect everyone to be able to draft a workable partnership agreement that will govern a (hopefully) lifelong relationship. Off-the-shelf marital partnership kits would be developed by private enterprises to fill this need. Marital corporations would be a huge boost to the multibillion-dollar wedding industry, while opening up a vast range of possible business opportunities throughout society. With incentives to develop marital corporations that cater to all sectors of society, marriage would turn into an even bigger business than it already is. This is usually what happens when you offer consumers more choice. ” Colin PA Jones , US lawyer and Professor at Doshisha University Law School, Kyoto, Japan
Crisis=Danger+ Opportunity What? Satisfy the large and growing gap ( between those who express a desire to marry and those who actually do ). How? By making marriage more attractive (by making it more like other contract-based services). Where? UK and Ireland (at least initially).