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'Divorce hotel' may become an option for amicable dissolutions

For Massachusetts couples looking for opportunities for amicable divorces, there may soon be a new option. A concept known as a "divorce hotel" exists in the Netherlands, and could be available in the United States in the near future.

The idea is that a couple seeking to avoid court litigation in their marriage dissolution checks into a hotel specifically designed to ease the divorce process. Over the course of a weekend, the couple engages in mediation in a suite specifically set aside for the purpose. During the remaining time, the spouses stay in separate rooms.

Only one-third of the couples who apply for the program are accepted. The couples are screened to make sure that both parties are willing to work with a mediator and that they both want to dissolve the marriage. Couples who do not seem able to collaborate on reaching a settlement are rejected. In addition, some have suggested that couples with complex finances might not be best served by trying to iron everything out in the course of a single weekend.

After the couple comes to an agreement under the guidance of trained mediators, they check out of the hotel, and in accordance with local law, later finalize the divorce by presenting the agreement to a judge.

The owner of the divorce hotels in the Netherlands is currently discussing the idea with U.S. hotels and law firms. Although the specifics of divorce hotels in the U.S. have not been revealed, the divorce hotel concept could fit well with the practice of collaborative divorce, in which a couple seeking amicable marriage dissolution meets with trained representatives to draft an agreement to govern their dissolution. This allows the couple to avoid litigation.

Source: The New York Times, "Quick Getaways, at the Divorce Hotel," Janet Morrissey, May 26, 2012.

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