A few months ago, CBS-LA reporter Erica Nochlin reached out to me, eager to do a television news package based on an article I'd written about DivorceHotel, a Netherlands-based destination mediation company. Erica wanted to do a story on destination divorce and the idea of the good divorce more generally that I write about in Splitopia. She wound up creating a very amusing piece on a difficult topic, which aired November 18 in Los Angeles. It was fun to have her and her cameraman, Robert, come over and talk to me, and my ex-husband, and shoot some video of us together with our son.
DivorceHotel sounds wacky—do you really want to vacation with your estranged spouse? But it's based on a couple of very sound principles. The point of DivorceHotel is to work with a mediator in a peaceful, cosseting setting. Mediated agreements cost much less than fighting it out in court with two adversarial-minded lawyers (even when you factor in the price of a weekend away at a luxury resort).
Mediated agreement also have a higher success rate than divorce settlements hammered out in anger. Whether you travel, or work with a mediator around the corner, you work together to craft a financial division and parenting plan that feels fair to both of you. Mediated agreements tend to stick, whereas those created in a fog of resentment can look downright crazy once that anger lifts.
DivorceHotel is also an acknowledgment that friends and family members can be quite well-meaning, and yet give the worst advice possible to a divorcing couple. I interviewed so many people who said they'd come up with reasonable agreement with their almost-ex. Then a friend or family member stepped in and starting saying things like, "You deserve more! You should get more! Don't trust him." They wound up hiring a new lawyer, sometimes spending a few hundred thousand dollars on legal fees—and ending up with basically the same agreement they'd started out with, only poorer, and harboring a huge amount of resentment for their ex, and sometimes the lawyers.
I was pleased to see a local TV station talk about divorce, and take the time to point out some ways to end a marriage without destroying a family. Watch the segment to the end; the anchor's comment after the package is hilarious.