Is life with your spouse unbearable? Do you wish you could quickly put yourself out of your misery? Well, there’s a new service called the hotel divorce, and it promises a quickie divorce in just one weekend. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A married couple checks into a hotel on a Friday. With the help of mediators, tax experts, and attorneys, the couple checks out of the hotel divorced on Sunday. Right now it’s only available in the Netherlands, but the creator of this concept, Jim Halfens, wants to bring a divorce hotel to a city near you. Is this a viable option?
BLACK ENTERPRISE sat down with divorce attorney Adelola Sheralynn Dow for more information. Here’s what you should know about the divorce hotel:
Not so fast—you won’t be officially divorced. Before you move on with your life, take note: Your divorce won’t be official until you take a few more steps. “One of my clients asked how he could get divorced quickly like Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. I had to explain that they most likely did pre-divorce filing settlement negotiation. And that’s essentially what this divorce hotel is. What many people don’t know is that after the hotel stay, couples don’t actually leave divorced; they leave with a settlement agreement. Once the couple leaves, they have either a memo of understanding or a separation agreement that provides a road map for how their judgment of divorce will look, but it doesn’t divorce them. So you can leave the hotel legally separated, but you’re not going to leave divorced.”
Dow notes that there are several documents that must be filed with the court and reviewed by the court clerks before your judgment of divorce is signed by a judge. “Most likely, at least here in the U.S., you wouldn’t be able to be divorced in three days,” says Dow. So if you had your heart set on getting divorced Sunday and then going on a dinner date Monday evening, you’ll have to put your plans on hold. “Unless they have a judge in the hotel room with them—which I doubt—they’re not going to leave with a divorce judgment,” Dow says.
One spouse could unknowingly get a raw deal. “You leave with a separation agreement, which is perfect, because you don’t have to argue these things out in court. If you can get people to sit down in an environment like that, it would be beneficial, but only if everyone had a full idea of what they were doing financially. The problem I have with this concept is that if you have one spouse who takes care of all the finances, the other spouse might have no idea about things like what type of insurance they have, what properties they own, and might be in the dark about other assets,” says Dow. Consequently, this situation would leave that spouse in an unprotected position. If there’s a settlement agreement, and he or she hasn’t had a chance to fully engage in the discovery process (this involves laying out the couple’s finances and property holdings), Dow says this could result in the spouse not getting what he or she is entitled to.
Continue reading more about the hotel divorces on the next page, and see why it may be cheaper to stay in your marriage.