Lawyers Worried That Streamlined Service Will Not Be Comprehensive
A new innovative approach to divorce which is being piloted in the Netherlands as a ‘fast-track’ route to separation may not provide the comprehensive support that couples often need during the process, family law specialists have warned.
Entrepreneur Jim Halfens has launched a ‘divorce hotel’ which allows couples to check in on a Friday and, after a weekend of negotiations, walk away with an agreed settlement on Sunday evening.
The hotel assembles experts including lawyers, accountants, estate agents and mediators to help the divorcing couple to achieve a settlement as quickly as possible. It is now rumoured that a fly on the hotel wall TV deal is being negotiated and plans are afoot for a UK-based hotel.
Family law experts at Irwin Mitchell have said that while concepts seem beneficial in theory, there are concerns as to whether such a one-size-fits-all approach will help couples to achieve fair and appropriate settlements.
Alison Hawes, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office who specialises in family law, commented: “The last four years or so have seen ever increasing numbers of people seeking alternatives to the traditional approach to divorce. Couples need and want cost effective solutions with the comfort that things will be resolved as quickly as possible.
“In principle this innovative approach to divorce appears to be a cost effective and speedy alternative to a process which, in some cases, can last for over a year. However, family businesses, share options and complex bonus schemes are all unlikely to receive adequate attention during the fast track weekend long process.
“Often the delay in reaching a financial agreement will be due to the need to assemble complete disclosure to give a full understanding of the financial position. After committing to the divorce hotel for a weekend, if full disclosure is not adequately prepared in advance, there is likely to be a feeling of intense pressure to settle without knowing the full picture.
“There is no doubt that a streamlined and cost effective approach to divorce is a priority for divorcing couples, but this should not be at the expense of each person being satisfied that they have achieved a fair settlement.”