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Divorce Hotel: unlikely to work in most marital breakups

An entrepreneur from the Netherlands is proactively pushing an idea in the United States that has gained traction for him back home. He calls it the Divorce Hotel.

In a nutshell, Jim Halfens' idea works like this: A divorcing couple shows up at the hotel on Friday and, with the help of lawyers, mediators and other persons who might be required, checks out on Sunday divorced. The charge is a flat fee, which Halfens' says is cheaper than the norm.

Will it work?

Not many experienced divorce attorneys seem to think so, with one pointing out that any kind of significant issue is unlikely to be safely and rationally resolved over a weekend's time. Complex issues can be many and time-consuming, and include property division, child custody and parenting plans, dissolution of a family business and a host of other considerations.

In the Netherlands, Halfens' idea has already worked for 16 out of 17 couples who carried through on the concept. Critics, though, can readily point out that the likelihood of success -- that is, an agreement in hand in one weekend -- increases commensurate with how simple a couple's affairs are going into the weekend and how much amicability remains in their relationship.

A most-likely prescription for success is this: partners in a relatively short marriage that haven't burned all their bridges, have no kids, no family business issues, no house, no shared debt and comparatively few other assets to quibble over.

Many couples -- in fact, most couples -- don't fit that description, and the sound input, advice and representation received from a proven divorce attorney is much more key to their successful outcome than is a quick divorce achieved through frenetic activity over one weekend.

Source: New York Times, "Quick getaways, at the divorce hotel," Janet Morrissey, May 28, 2012

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