It’s not necessarily cheaper. The divorce hotel route could cost anywhere from $3,500 to about $10,000 depending on the complexity of the case. “If you have a couple that has agreed on the terms of their divorce on their own—and couples have done that—you could do an uncontested divorce, say in New York or New Jersey, for anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500, depending on whether you have children or not, and depending on whether you contracted an attorney to do a separation agreement for you, which would cost more money.
If your case is complicated, you can forget it. Dow says a hotel divorce may not be feasible if the case was financially complicated or there were child custody issues to work out. “Typically, people who have children spend more because of child support issues, visitation issues, and other things that need to be set forth in a separation or stipulation settlement. If you’re involved in a contested divorce, your base retainer would be around $5,000. And if you’re arguing over custody, you could spend $100,000 or more. Clients end up spending money not only on their attorney but also a forensic evaluator, who will be appointed by the judge to evaluate the psychology of both parents who are looking for custody; and to determine the psychological health of the kids, to see what type of parenting agreement would be best for them. In New York and New Jersey, a law guardian or attorney for the child would sometimes be appointed, and that person’s retainer would be at least $5,000. The course of the divorce really depends on the issues involved,” says Dow.
The verdict: Dow advises other alternatives. “I would tell couples they might want to consider mediation, and doing that after you get a full disclosure of everyone’s finances and all of the property. I would be concerned that people in this environment would not have access to all the information they need to make proper decisions. Also, when you’re in an intense setting like this, you don’t know if you’re making decisions that long term might be good for you. Sometimes there are benefits to having more time so you can make better decisions. Many clients rush to get the divorce done and end up signing something that they regret a year later.”
If you and your spouse were ever considering a divorce, would you check into a divorce hotel? Let us know in the comments section below.