A new study shows that a marriage is more likely to fall apart if the wife falls ill.
A new study shows that a marriage is more likely to fall apart if the wife falls ill.

London - Divorce Hotel, a Netherlands-based programme that assists couples in splitting up during a stay at a hotel, is going to the US.

Jim Halfens, the concept’s 33-year-old founder who has run the business out of 20 Netherlands hotels since it launched last year, is in negotiation with several New York and Los Angeles hotels.

The programme, which offers quick divorces that are “fully arranged for by a team of professionals in a single long weekend” charges couples a flat fee of anywhere between $3 500 and $10 000 (R30 000 to R85 000).

The idea is to talk couples through alimony and splitting assets as well as visitation rights to any children over a short period of time as opposed to drawing the process out over weeks or even months.

The unusual concept, which also provides legal advice and mediators, has proved so appealing that two US TV production companies are interested in creating a reality series around the concept.

Halfens told The New York Times that 17 couples have trialled the programme in the Netherlands and only one of those couples failed to leave with divorce papers in hand.

The only thing a couple has to do once they leave Divorce Hotel is lodge their divorce papers with the courts.

Couples sleep in separate rooms throughout their stay and suites are used for mediation talks.

A hotel’s staff members are under special instructions to not wish the couple a nice weekend.

Halfens said: “You don’t want the hotel crew wishing you a very nice weekend and hoping you have lots of fun here.”

The cost per couple is determined by the complexity of a couple’s financial arrangements.

As a comparison, typical divorces in the US tend to cost $5 000 to $20 000, according to Randall Kessler, the chairman of the American Bar Association’s family law section.

Obviously, if a couple have pricey assets, divorce prices can soar.

One customer spoke to the paper about his experience at the Divorce Hotel.

The anonymous male said it was his second divorce and the previous one had cost him $30 000 just on “lawyer and court costs”. It had also taken one year to finalise all the details.

“There was a lot of fighting – not by us, but our lawyers. Every letter her attorney wrote had to be answered by mine. That financially ruined me.”

He added that a weekend at the Divorce Hotel provided a far smoother divorce the second time around.

On his divorce weekend, he said, they went out on the town for dinner and wine. “It wasn’t weird or wrong,” he said. “We felt great – like friends.”

Halfens is looking to expand into other countries – Italy, the UK and Germany are next on the list. - Daily Mail