The Destination Divorce

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21672250I have just read a fascinating article at Quartz ( regarding the destination divorce. Here is the set up from the article.

Before no-fault divorce, getting a divorce was much more burdensome. “In general, before no-fault, you could only sue for divorce if you could prove you had the grounds acceptable in your state—like having a spouse who had committed adultery or abandonment, abused you, been incarcerated, or in some cases, proved unable to have “intimate relations.””

The burdens were significant, tittilating, time consuming, and expensive. People began looking for easier alternatives, and found them by hitting the road:

You could travel to a place with more expansive divorce options. In the 1800s, people went to Indiana to divorce. In the early 1900s, Nevada was the hot spot for untying the knot. Between 1940 and 1960, at least 500,000 US citizens traveled to Mexico for a “quickie” divorce—including Marilyn Monroe, and also Johnny Carson, who divorced his first wife, Jody Wolcott, in 1963.

Because of the proliferation of no-fault, destination divorce is less popular now, but it does still exist. As the article details:

The destination divorce remains an important option emotionally, insists Jim Halfens, CEO of the DivorceHotel, a Dutch company offering three-day divorce packages at six hotels in the Netherlands and the Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa in Saratoga Springs, New York. “We take you out of the zone where you’re living so we can isolate you from all the influences—the mother-in-law, the new girlfriend, the new boyfriend. Everyone is advising you because they love you and want the best for you, but they’re blind to the fact that they’re not impartial.”

Meddlesome input aside, working out the details of who gets what and where the children will sleep is better done at a relaxing hotel than in a lawyer’s office, Halfens says, because the legal environment encourages defensiveness and even aggression. Away from all that, aided by a skilled mediator, you can make decisions rationally and fairly.

At the Georgian-style Gideon Putnam in New York, you and your once-beloved each stay in a private room, and a mediator works with you to draw up a fair, sane separation agreement. If you feel yourself coming undone, you can take a break to soak in Saratoga’s healing springs, or get a massage. Before traveling, clients have gone through an intake process with DivorceHotel mediator and US manager Michele Martin, who assesses their ability to cooperate, does some preliminary mediation work, and offers guidance on financial and/or psychological work they might need to do first. Neither children nor other family members or friends are invited.

DivorceHotel has arranged more than 100 destination divorces for its European clients, and about a dozen US divorces at the Gideon Putnam. In New York, the cost ranges from about $7,500-$12,000, including pre-trip mediation, an hour consultation with a lawyer for each spouse, lodging, onsite mediation, a lawyer to draft the final agreement, and follow-up support.“The feedback has been very positive,” Martin says. “All these couples have had children, and it’s so great to see them laughing together and getting along, having that good co-parenting relationship. Some say they get along better than they have in years.”

Not everything is as simple as we would like it to be.  The article also explains the pitfalls:

It’s important to remember that the legality of divorcing somewhere other than your home state varies. While the US generally recognizes foreign divorces, it doesn’t have to. (US states now have residency requirements making even the Nevada quickie divorce largely a thing of the past.) Any number of procedural details abroad might render your divorce invalid, such as the fact that neither of you actually live on a sunny Caribbean island. Your destination country may not have jurisdiction over certain aspects of your settlement, such as child support, custody or financial details, and your state court may or may not enforce your terms, an issue that matters if you ever want to sue your ex in the future. My mother said that when she and my father appealed to the Ohio court years later for help administering an aspect of their child-support agreement, the judge responded along the lines of, “If our court wasn’t good enough for your divorce then, we’re not good enough to help you now. Go ask the Dominican Republic.”

Fascinating stuff. Please click here to read the original article in it entirety.

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