Divorce Hotels – Will You Need to Reserve One at Your Wedding?

Like weddings, there are divorce gifts, divorce greeting cards, and divorce parties.  Well, so that the travel industry isn’t excluded from the booming marketplace, today there are “Divorce Hotels.”  The concept is the brain-child of Jim Halfens, an entrepreneur, who identified two fundamental flaws in the typical divorce, namely, cost and time.  The cost of an average divorce is easily 5-figures, and the average length of time it takes to get divorced can easily exceed 12 months (certainly longer than the couple wants to stay together.)  Currently, Divorce Hotels can be found in the Netherlands, where a handful of sophisticated boutique hotels offer the service to its clientele.

After check-in (and separate rooms, of course), the couple meets privately with a mediator and lawyer, during which the details of dividing their marital assets, assessing the need for support (child support and alimony) payments, and division of parental responsibilities are discussed.  Once all of the details are secured, an agreement is prepared and handed to a judge for final disposition.  All of this is completed in just two days, and all is accomplished using a fixed fee arrangement.

In essence, this is a variation of the U.S. model of mediation on steroids.  Because it is focused and on a time-table, the Divorce Hotel concept also eliminates many of the problems inherent in mediated and litigated divorces, namely, (1) the unnecessary and unsolicited opinions offered by well-meaning family and friends, who often cause additional conflict and confusion;  (2)  the exaggerated length of time required to come to agreed-upon decisions regarding post-divorce life; and (3) the significant and unanticipated legal fees that arise as a result of unresolved conflict.  The Divorce Hotel is a pragmatic approach to a dispute, setting aside emotions and getting down to the task at hand:  separating the lives of a married couple, who no longer wish to be together.

Unfortunately, not just anyone can elect to stay at the Divorce Hotel.  Couples must be accepted into the program, and undergo serious evaluation to determine their worthiness.  Couples who are uncivil towards each other will unlikely make the cut, as mediation requires mutual cooperation and modicum of respect, at least outwardly.

Naturally, because everyone loves to watch a good train-wreck, the concept is also being pitched as the next reality TV show, proposing to peer into the private lives of a divorcing couple to watch the good, the bad, and the ugly of individuals as they de-tangle and separate the seemingly inextricable details of their lives.

Halfens has it right, and this writer hopes to see an explosion of Divorce Hotels all over the U.S. as soon as possible.