Proposed Law in Mexico Puts Marriage up for Review

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Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: One thing that's certainly changing in Italy is marriage. The divorce rate has been going up steadily, much to the displeasure of the Catholic church. Same thing is happening in Mexico, particularly in Mexico City. So one lawmaker in the capital is proposing a new marriage law. It would give couples the option to review their marriage contract every two years. They could then renew it or let it expire. Ignacio de los Reyes is a correspondent for BBC Mundo in Mexico City. So how's this going to work, this contract? Let's say a couple shows up at city hall to get married, what would their options be if this new marriage law went into effect?

Ignacio de los Reyes: Well, basically, couple would be able to delay the length of their contract or marriage with a minimum of two years of trial, and then they would decide whether they want to renew their vowels for another period of time, let's say 5 or 6 years, or just end their relationship without having to file for divorce. And the aim of this proposal is due to be discussed in December in the local congress of Mexico City, is to save couples the trouble of fighting for the custody of the children, for the money, and save emotional pain to those couples in trouble.

Werman: Because alimony and custody would be determined before the two year contract was signed, is that the idea?

Reyes: That's right. Both members of the couple would need to sign pre-marriage agreement saying for instance, how much money are you going to provide, whether you're providing a flat or a car, everything will be detailed, so everything will be clear when the marriage breaks down -- at least that's the aim of the legislature who's proposing this bill that says this is only a way to be more aware of your rights and responsibilities as a husband, or as a wife or as a parent.

Werman: I mean proponents of this law say it will keep the divorce rate down, but isn't the end of a marriage like after two years in effect a divorce even if it's been pre-agreed?

Reyes: Well, what the legislature say, simply the marriage expires. Therefore, you wouldn't have to go to court, hire a lawyer, so technically it's not a divorce. But for conservative groups in Mexico the new bill would only worsen the health of traditional marriages. I spoke to the president of the National Union of Parents and she told me that she was shocked when she heard about the proposal of renewing marriage after two years. And certainly one of the main concerns for these groups is how is it going to be for a child to think every two years whether mama and father are going to renew their contract or not.

Werman: What are the chances this legislation will actually go through?

Reyes: Well, we have to be clear this is only a proposal. It has to be discussed first, but Mexico City has already one of the most progressive family legislation in the world. In 2007 abortion was decriminalized and a bill allowing gay marriages came into effect in 2009. And in a country like Mexico where [inaudible 3:05] is spread in many parts of the country, in 2009 nobody thought that a gay marriage could be a reality in this country and it was. So, well, maybe in 2 years time we could see renewable marriages.

Werman: Interesting stuff, the BBC's Ignacio de los Reyes in Mexico City. Thanks so much!

Reyes: Thanks so much!