Heartbreak hotel

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Bad news for any of Obiter’s family lawyer friends with plans for a cheap weekend away - the gain of out-of-season hotels may be their loss. We learned this week that Netherlands entrepreneur Jim Halfens intends to bring his ‘Divorce Hotel’ concept to the UK’s discreet shores (and to reality TV, in the US).

Divorce Hotel isn’t a chain, Obiter understands - rooms will be booked in existing hotels and the divorce negotiated in hotel rooms with a cast of lawyers, accountants and financial advisers to hand. It’s entirely possible to do, notes Obiter’s friend, ProLegal’s head of family Jonathan West: ‘It sounds similar to the collaborative process we already have.’ Though, perhaps frustratingly for a couple in a hurry, ‘they’ll leave with the paperwork and an agreement in place - not actually divorced’, West adds.

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Of course, this is not the first time our hotels have played a facilitating role in assisting couples with a clean break. Before the late Roy Jenkins reformed the divorce laws in the 1960s, a gentleman requiring a ‘fault’ in divorce that besmirched no reputation (other than his own) would book into a hotel with a hired lady as ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’.

He would make sure that, come morning, a chambermaid would discover them in the hotel bed and a private detective would also observe them at breakfast. All very sweetly retro as an idea - but it left the lawyer out of the mini-break. Obiter assumes that, when it’s time to settle up and check out, the couple will almost certainly be going dutch.

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