Unbelievably, given that the summer wetly petered out some weeks ago, I still have two weddings to attend this year. Neither have given guests the easy option of a wedding list. Which leaves the tricky question: what to get for the happy couple?
Luckily, the law firm Prolegal has given me an unlikely answer: divorce insurance. The London-based firm, in collaboration with the insurance company Arag, has launched an insurance policy that will cover all the legal costs of divorcing your husband or wife – up to a limit of £100,000, that is.
Okay, so obviously I'm not actually going to buy this for my friends - although it would definitely be original and might arguably be a more useful gift than a Vera Wang wine decanter. But would I consider it for myself? I am the child of divorced parents. My husband is the child of divorced parents. Hell, I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I know whose parents are still married, if they ever were in the first place.
Which might make you think I would support the kind of eyes-open, real-world pragmatism that must characterise those people who would consider taking out this kind of policy. But no. Maybe I'm more of a romantic than I like to admit. Maybe it's superstition. But insuring yourself against the potential future breakdown of your most intimate relationship just seems, well, horrifyingly practical. And desperately unromantic. Surely in the first flushes of marriage the last thing you should be doing is planning for its failure?
Of course, there is the argument that we buy insurance all the time while hoping against hope that we will never need it, critical illness cover being the most obvious example. But somehow, even though we know that nearly one in two UK marriages end in divorce, that kind of cover still seems less cynical. Arguably, bar the odd lifestyle change, there's not much you can do to control whether you are unlucky enough to succumb to a life-threatening condition. By contrast, we hope, our relationships are in our own grasp: we know when things are going well or badly and it's in our power to do at least try to something about it. Insuring against divorce feels to me like betting on failure.
And anyway, knowing how insurance companies operate, they are bound to find a way to wriggle out of actually paying up, should the worst happen. As one legal commentator told the Financial Times: "I would be fascinated to see the exclusion clauses in that policy – lying about frequency of sex? Giving false details about the amount of rows you have every week? Being unfaithful from the start of the marriage? Who knows..."
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