Seizing on the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired quickie weddings in Las Vegas chapels, Dutch businessman Jim Halfens is trying to pioneer a business that lets couples undo their marriages just as easily. With a "wild, you've-got-to-be-joking plan to profit from the sorry state of so many American unions," Halfens wants to establish a "Divorce Hotel" that will facilitate splits for the 50 percent of American couples who call it quits, says Janet Morrissey at The New York Times. And Halfens — who is not married — argues that the out-of-the-box scheme, replete with plans for an accompanying reality television show, will be a hit. Here, a guide to the Divorce Hotel:
How does the Divorce Hotel work?
It's pretty simple. "On a Friday, a couple — which already have plans to split — check into a designated luxury hotel," says Julia Bricklin at Forbes. "On Monday, after meeting with lawyers, mediators, notaries, and psychologists all weekend, the pair walks away amicably, with divorce papers signed, for one flat fee."
How much does it cost?
A weekend will set couples back between $2,500 and $10,000. While $10,000 might seem like a lot for a weekend getaway in which fun isn't exactly on the agenda, it might be a deal considering the legal costs for messy divorces — anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, or more if children are involved — that can take months or years to complete.
Are there any Divorce Hotels up and running?
Yes. Halfens says his Divorce Hotel operations in Holland have been used by 17 couples, all but one of whom successfully ended their marriage over the weekend. Halfens is looking at several potential U.S. sites for a Divorce Hotel, including New York City and Los Angeles.
Is it really called the Divorce Hotel?
No. The divorce is a luxury service offered through existing boutique hotels, largely because hotels "are reluctant to be seen as the Divorce Hotel," says Morrissey. The service offers couples separate accommodations, and hotel employees are instructed to treat them with special consideration. "You don't want the hotel crew wishing you a very nice weekend and hoping you have lots of fun here," Halfens tells The Times.
Will it work?
It "takes more than the length of a weekend jaunt to sort through the details of a complicated divorce, especially when such a divorce involves significant property or business holdings, stock options, real estate, or offshore accounts," says Doug Barry at Jezebel. Things get even more complicated when custody battles are at play. However, Halfens claims that his experiment has led to amicable divorces and heartfelt partings. "We once had a guy that said, 'I want a bottle of champagne,' and did a toast to his wife," he tells ABC News.
And there's going to be a reality TV show?
Possibly. A couple of production companies have reportedly expressed interest in the concept, and Halfens has invited Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to launch the show. Halfens claims that they're a perfect fit because "they've indicated they want to end their six-year marriage on friendly terms," says Morrissey. "He hasn't heard back."
Sources: ABC News, Daily Mail, Forbes, Jezebel, The New York Times