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Divorce Hotels – a passing fad or here to stay?

With English law often encouraging couples to play the “blame game,” leading to acrimony and expensive legal bills, the demand for “divorcing in a positive manner” has never been higher. Today we see all sorts of routes to what has become known as the quickie divorce, from mediation to mobile friendly divorce apps. Forget about heartbreak hotel, the next fad in this illustrious line up is the Divorce Hotel, the brainchild of Dutch firm Divorce Hotel International.

The company started its novel concept back in 2011 and currently has six Divorce Hotels in Holland and one in New York. In March 2017 the concept landed on English soil, when York based entrepreneur David Leckie launched the first UK Divorce Hotel.

The idea is simple - couples check in to the hotel for a weekend, separate rooms of course, pledging to settle all their affairs and seal their divorce deal in the two days. They work with a mediator and lawyer to an agreed budget. Most fees are around the £6,000-£8,000 mark, reaching £10,000 for more complex settlements.The rest of the time is spent enjoying the 5 star facilities, with candle-lit dinners, spa treatments and walks around the grounds. Such a romantic environment could even help warring couples rekindle their relationships.

So is the divorce hotel just a passing fad or is it here to stay? The fact there are only seven hotels worldwide suggest it’s too early to stay. The concept is also only suitable to a fairly small minority of cases. The conditions for booking in are lengthy and include the strict requirement that couples must be on speaking terms and there must be a clear, pre-agreed plan regarding the care of children. The service is also only not suitable for couples with complex financial ties.

While there is no doubt that seeking a fast, inexpensive and conflict free divorce is beneficial to the welfare of many couples, enterprises of this kind should come with a health warning. Divorce hotels are after all businesses first, geared at maximizing profits – this in itself can lead to inconsistencies in professionalism and service provision. For instance, mediators not versed in English law could leave key details out of proceedings, causing hard feelings and complications later on down the line. There is also the risk that even after two days of negotiating and £10,000 of your hard earned cash spent, a resolution will not be found. Our advice would be to proceed with caution and always discuss your situation with a trained divorce lawyer before taking the plunge.

If you’re considering an alternative to a court based divorce, why not contact a local collaborative professional for advice and information.