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
- produce a solution that is mutually beneficial and not merely a compromise, and
- 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.
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