The Divorce Hotel is coming to Australia

Couples going through an amicable breakup will soon be able to check in to a Divorce Hotel to ease the split.

Less ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ than ‘conscious uncoupling’, the concept allows couples to check into separate rooms for two nights where they undergo mediation and nut out details behind closed doors.

Founded in The Netherlands seven years ago, it has spread to the US and the UK with an Australian expansion planned for 2019.

The idea is that, over the course of a 48-hour hotel stay, all divorce arrangements can be made on neutral ground and away from distractions like children, work and household commitments.

Divorce Hotel is the brainchild of CEO Jim Halfens, who came up with the idea after witnessing the mess of his best friend’s divorce.

“If you ask most former couples what the worst thing was about their divorce, they will tell you ‘the money’. They never know how much it is going to cost,” he told the Daily Mail.

“We thought it could be a lot quicker and a lot easier without all the external influences such as your mother-in-law or your best friend getting involved with suggestions about how the divorce should be going.

“Also, it can take months to get all the relevant professionals around the table and it needs to be on neutral territory. The end of a marriage might be negative, but from the moment couples come to us, we only focus on the positives and the future.”

The hotel provides all the professional support a couple need to arrange their divorce – from lawyers and financial advisors to mediators and even therapists – under the same roof.

Because the Family Court of Australia decrees a married couple must be separated for a year before they can file for divorce, ideally both parties will have time to reconcile their differences emotionally so they’re ready to get down to the nitty gritty details of the split.

Of course, a divorce arranged over sundowners in the garden lounge might not work if the parties want to stab each other with their cocktail umbrellas.

Acrimonious splits are unlikely to be resolved over 48 peaceful hours at a Divorce Hotel.

And if the split involves older children, decisions about living arrangements will need to involve their input – although could be worked out at the hotel and signed off later.

The DivorceHotel International website states: “We will never treat you as a client but rather as a VIP guest. Allow us to serve you, and to support you, in settling your divorce in as positive a way as possible.”

However, Brisbane-based solicitors Aylward Game warn the concept may not be as good as it looks.

“Being a collaborative lawyer who encourages couples to resolve their differences by way of collaborative negotiation, I find this process…to be a bit harrowing,” said an opinion piece on the company website. 

“Imagine being locked up in a hotel suite with your former partner for the weekend to talk about financial, parenting and other issues which caused the breakdown in your relationship. I don’t think many people could use this process.”

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Anne-Marie Cade
5 years ago

I am a collaborative family lawyer, a Mediator and a Divorce Coach who has gone through a divorce and and I think this is a great idea for couples who want to sort things out. The legal profession makes divorces more complicated than it should be and the approach needs to change. The Australian family is changing, the way Australian couples want to divorce is changing but the system is hopelessly outdated. Legal professionals because they are risk averse I feel will always come up with reasons why approaches like this will not work but the reality of it is that this is what clients want and need.

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