University of Ottawa law student Véronique Laliberté believes in marriage, she just isn't so sure the law should assume the bond between two people should last until "death do us part."

  • Listen to Ottawa Morning Wednesday as Stu Mills talks to Laliberté about marriage

Laliberté is studying the idea of a fixed-term marriage for her master's thesis, one that would allow couples to get married on a five-year renewable term. 

"It could be five years, it could be 10, it could be two, whatever… It's for you to decide," said Laliberté.

"But you can renew your vows, get divorced after five years or do nothing and then you will be married forever like most of the people right now."

The idea of an expiry date for the venerable institution of marriage has been floated before. In 2011, politicians in Mexico proposed a two-year trial period before marriages could be renewed or dissolved, but the proposed law did not pass.

In 2007, a German political candidate ran unsuccessfully on a campaign platform that proposed a seven-year marriage contract length.

In Canada, the expiry of a fixed term is not a recognized grounds for divorce. Couples must either be separated for at least a year or be able to prove adultery or cruelty.

Laliberté recognizes the legal and cultural roadblocks to treating a marriage more like a mortgage. She said she hopes the paper will spur a larger discussion about our marriage laws.

Laliberté decided to pursue the thesis topic after a conversation with one of her professors, who had advised her against marriage because of the high rates of divorce and the associated costs and difficulties that come when couples split.

In 2008 there were 70,226 divorces in Canada, the last year for which Statistics Canada has released information.

But Laliberté said she still believes in marriage.

"I don't want to get the romance out of the marriage," she said.

"When you renew your vows it could be like, 'Hey, it's been great for five years,' so it could be romantic."