Divorce Law Family Law Legal Topics

A New Take on the Quicky Divorce

A “Divorce Hotel” may be coming soon to a luxury hotel near you! As the New York Times explains, “Check in on Friday, married. Then, with the help of mediators and independent lawyers, check out on Sunday, divorce papers in hand, all for a flat fee.” Not surprisingly, this concept may have the makings of a reality show too.

The Divorce Hotel concept definitely has its skeptics, who doubt it would work unless the couple remain friends and have uncomplicated financial arrangements. But others cite the expense and fighting between lawyers in a standard divorce as the reason for turning to this method.

An integral part of the Divorce Hotel concept is the use of mediation. In the mediation process, the parties act as their own negotiators and decision makers, with the mediator helping to structure a productive approach and providing technical and practical information. Because the parties determine the standards on which a settlement is based, their own sense of fairness becomes the predominant basis for decisions.

Mediation provides an alternative to the traditional adversarial approach by encouraging collaborative rather than competitive behavior. The assumption is that accommodating the needs and views of both parties is more likely to

  1. produce a solution that is mutually beneficial and not merely a compromise, and
  2. avoid the risk that the parties will become polarized and the dispute enlarged.

Mediation emphasizes problem solving to create a number of potential solutions for both parties and rejects the view of conflict resolution as a zero-sum game in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other.

Even though there isn’t a Divorce Hotel in California yet, couples can nonetheless take advantage of mediation to resolve their marital dissolution cases. CEB covers the complete mediation process, including sample forms, in its book California Marital Settlement and Other Family Law Agreements, chap 2. Also check out CEB’s program Preparing a Family Law Case for Mediation, available On Demand.

© The Regents of the University of California, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2 replies on “A New Take on the Quicky Divorce”

Sounds charming, but how realistic is it that both parties will prepare and exchange realistic, document-based declarations of disclosure in one weekend? And if an ex-spouse gets “buyer’s remorse”, I don’t see what, if anything, exists in the mediation framework to prevent further litigation for at least 2 years down the road, pursuant to Family Code Section 2122.

I like the idea of mediation, but more important than a mediation framework is that the parties are actually ready and willing to talk in good faith. I have lost count over the years of the number of parents who later complain about the child custody/visitation timeshares that they agreed to with the assistance of the court’s child custody mediator. And yes, I do mean dissatisfied with an agreement the parties reached, not a report and recommendations after the parties could not make an agreement.

These are some great points. A “weekend effort” at mediation might well resolve some outstanding issues, but it would be a stretch for many couples to accomplish all the statutory disclosure responsibilities and work through complex custody, visitation, support, and property matters. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of couples are turning to various ADR methods, even if the process is well beyond a weekend effort.

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