Thinking of planning a romantic treat for your partner? You may wish to think again with the opening of this new hotel! Romance is probably not going to be on the cards…
The idea of a 'divorce hotel' was developed in the Netherlands by Dutch firm DivorceHotel International. It has already opened hotels in Holland and the US and the company have now expanded by launching their first hotel in Britain.
The hotel promises to provide couples with a quick way to divorce over a single weekend having the relevant professionals on hand to draw up the paperwork and the couple's agreement. It is supposed to reduce the amount of time it takes to sort out a divorce as a 'traditional divorce' can take a number of months to finalise. The company send the paperwork off to the family court after their weekend session. They says that the couple will receive their decree nisi after 2-3 weeks and then a decree absolute six weeks after that. However, these timescales in England and Wales are totally unrealistic. It will largely depend on how quickly family courts can deal with the applications and how much of a backlog they have. It can often take 2 – 3 weeks for just the petition!
The company says it is open to everyone wanting to split up in a 'positive way' enabling a 'bright new future after divorce'. However, this 'quickie' divorce comes at a price…. The package costs between £6,000 and £10,000 per couple. It has been reported that this is a fraction of the average divorce bill in the UK. However, it is worth remembering that many solicitors will now offer fixed fees for simple, uncontested divorces which are significantly less than the package price at the DivorceHotel.
Jim Halfens, the mastermind of the concept, has also toyed with the idea of having a reality television show and has been in negotiations with two television production companies.
Couples who have been attracted to the service say that it is a perfect way to get a divorce if you are still amicable with your partner and want to remain friends after a divorce. They see that the traditional divorce system works against these aims and can create animosity between the parties.
Others have said that that the process allows them to come to a decision with their partner free from influence from other family members and even friends. It allowed them to think about what was important to them without being influenced by others.
The process also allowed them to have breaks if they needed to and the hotel provide activities such as cycling, walking and has a spa too which helped the couples clear their minds.
However, it is questionable whether a divorce can really be sorted out in the space of a weekend. There are so many things to think about when splitting up from your partner not just the obvious things. Who is going to have the children at the weekends? On what evenings are we going to go out as a family? Who are my children going to live with? Where am I going to live? Can I still live in the martial house? What happens to my house that I bought before marrying my partner? What is going to happen to my pension? What is going to happen to my savings? All of these questions are going to need some consideration.
Placing pressure on couples to agree a settlement within 48 hours may not achieve the best result for the parties directly involved but also for their families. The parties may not stick to the agreements they have made if they have been made hastily and in a last ditch attempt to settle matters. An added layer of pressure is placed on the parties when they think about how much they have paid for the weekend. They don't want to come away and have to instruct solicitors to go through the process again.
Pressure can also increase the amount of mistakes made by the parties. They may forget things that are important in terms of the finances for example assets obtained before the marriage. If a mistake is made, it is very difficult to then change the agreement that has been made. It can also be expensive.
Sir Paul Colleridge of the Marriage Foundation has appeared in several television interviews this week, to warn the public that this concept could be sending the wrong message to millions of couples out there. He said that if you are able to spend a weekend with your partner at a 5* hotel then you should be investing in your relationship rather than throwing in the towel. He also said that it is very rare that there is no acrimony between couples and cannot see in this situation how matters can be finalised in the space of 48 hours. It is probably one of the most painful experiences that you will go through in your life and it is important not to trivialise it.
Bearing in mind all of the above, getting a divorce can change your circumstances dramatically so it is important to choose the right method for you whether that be a through the DivorceHotel or through traditional methods.
Some people understandably are worried that a traditional divorce can be acrimonious but here at Clapham and Collinge Solicitors our family law experts are Resolution lawyers and promote a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. We can also assist couples who wish to deal with their separation by way of mediation, collaborative law or arbitration. Our aim is to work out a solution that is right for you in your circumstances.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our dedicated Family Law Solicitors will be delighted to help. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, Brooke and Sheringham offices.