The Dutch people are very good at coming up with solutions to social predicaments that push the boundaries of societal norms. The latest Dutch creation to cause a stir in the news is the invention of the â€œDivorce Hotel,â€ where unhappily-married couples can check in for the weekend as a couple, and check out on Monday morning as singles.
The Divorce Hotel is the concept of 33-year-old Jim Halfens, who has been running the new business idea out of different hotels in the Netherlands since it was launched late last year. Despite the final-sounding name, a Divorce Hotel isn’t an actual hotel stay; and is more of a hotel service package agreement where for a flat fee ranging from $3,500 to $10,000, the hotel will provide mediators and lawyers to help couples complete all the necessary negotiations and paperwork to file for a divorce. When the hotel stay is over, all that’s left to do is to present the completed paperwork to a judge to make it binding and official.
Halfens currently has agreements with six high-end hotels in the Netherlands where couples can go to dissolve their marriages and of the 17 couples who have tried it, 16 left with their divorce papers ready for the judge. Halfens now thinks his concept is ready to expand to the U.S. because the price of a Divorce Hotel’s flat fees are only about half of what divorces in the U.S. tend to cost. Halfens is reportedly already in negotiation with several New York and Los Angeles hotels, and two U.S. TV production companies, Base Productions and A. Smith & Company, are said to be interested in creating reality TV series around the concept. The concept might have a tough go of it in the U.S. however, as many affluent American married couples with large estates and children would be very hard-pressed to come up with a satisfactory divorce agreement in just a three-day stay at a hotel. In addition to the potential child custody battles, couples in the U.S. often feud at length over all assets and money issues, and the odds of getting them to spend a weekend together at a hotel could be a real stretch. Unless a couple is still on speaking terms with each other, the Divorce Hotel idea could easily turn out to be a bust here in the U.S.
However unrealistic the idea may turn out to be here in the U.S., it would still probably at least make for some pretty dramatic reality TV episodes as the couples sleep in separate rooms at night and battle it out by day in special suites reserved for divorce mediation talks. Aside from plans to expand into the U.S., Halfens has been quoted saying he would also like to operate the program in Italy, the UK and Germany as well. Sometimes the craziest ideas actually catch on, and if Mr. Halfens is even half-correct, you might see a few Divorce Hotels on television here in the U.S. soon.