Divorce Hotel.com – revolutionary or a step too far?

I was intrigued recently to learn about divorcehotel.com. As the name suggests, it offers a service where couples can book in at various divorce.com hotels in the Netherlands and abroad whereby your divorce is arranged for by a team of professionals including accountants, tax advisors and even estate agents according to their website in a single long weekend.

The concept is that if you and your partner wish to arrange for your divorce in a fast manner it can be finalised for you during your stay. I do not know enough about this hotel to review the uptake of this service and also how many people chose to reconcile after a weekend away facing the reality of their separation and its impact but it does somewhat intrigue me.

As an Accredited Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer, I embrace the thinking that clients facing a divorce or separation should have a choice as to how they want their divorce to be dealt with. No two families or clients are the same and what might work for one family will not suit another, so I work in such a way that clients have various options. If they wish to co-operatively resolve their divorce, separation and children matters they may chose to attend mediation. If they feel emotionally this is not possible or one spouse is being unreasonable they may have to attend court or consider collaborative law or solicitor negotiations.

What strikes me about this concept is that it does not seem to take into account the grief process that couples go through following the end of a relationship which can take months and sometimes many years. It is rare in my experience to find a couple who both feel the same way following their separation. One may have been considering separating for a number months, if not years and during this time has come to terms with it. When they do eventually decide to separate they have already gone through the various emotions of anger, upset, depression and are ready to move forward.

Rarely is the other party at the same stage in the process. Divorcehotel.com suggests that a weekend is all it takes to resolve the legal issues on separation. This might well be the case but the emotional fall out following a divorce cannot be under estimated because of its impact, often on the children of the family. I often find in my mediation practice as time moves forward in the process, couples change and how they felt at the beginning is often not the same as how they feel when they reach conclusion.

I also recognise that for many clients they just want the process dealt with as quickly as possible and I wonder how many of my own clients might be tempted to want their divorce to be resolved in a weekend. With the reduction in legal aid which is affecting many people who were previously entitled to legal aid for their divorce I can see that this solution might appeal to some. It is possible to resolve the issues in such a timescale but to incorporate any agreement in a legally binding order within a divorce process takes many months and it is not possible with the process we have here to speed this up. A quick solution is not always the best long term solution.

I am not sure the world of family law in this country is quite ready for such a concept but I think we should continue to embrace new ways of dealing with family matters and work harder to find way of resolving such an emotionally stressful time in the best possible way for clients. Many solicitors firms are doing this with training in soft skills, with the introduction of fixed fees for cases and the options of mediation, collaborative law, round table negotiations, court proceedings and just general guidance and assistance if couples want to carry out their own divorce and separation.

Blog written by Clare Kitteridge, Head of Family Law and Mediation at Kingsley David Solicitors

Clare is a family lawyer with over 15 years experience, a trained Collaborative lawyer and a family mediator accredited by the Law Society and Resolution.  Clare is passionate about family law as an area that can have an everlasting impact on a family.  Clare works with a range of professionals including family consultants, counsellors, financial advisors and arbitrators to ensure you receive all the support you need.  You can contact Clare on 01908 325555.