In the Netherlands, they have the Divorce Hotel, and there is a couple in Chicago that is now promoting the Weekend Divorce. Does this sound too good to be true? Not to me actually– lots of couples cannot take time off of work during the day, and at night we all want to go home and unwind and spend time with our families. So, what if you could meet with a mediator on the weekend and hash out your legal issues? I’ve been asked to do this many times, and it’s actually a very efficient process. Here is how it works:
Upfront, a couple will submit their joint request for a mediation. They book a three hour block of time and pay upfront. They bring with them all of their financial info, and meanwhile I bring snacks and a flip chart.
Part 1- We go over the basic rules of mediation, and an overview of the legal issues we must address.
Part 2- Each side gets an equal amount of time to express his/her goals and concerns re the divorce.
Part 3- We generate options (aka brainstorm solutions) on how to address the key points re (1) custody; (2) child support; (3) alimony and (4) property division.
Part 4- Evaluate and narrow the options for an amicable resolution.
Only lawyers can actually explain the law and draft a Separation Agreement that will be accepted by the court, therefore non-lawyers that act as mediators can only provide couples with a Memo of Understanding. Parties must understand that the Memo is NOT something most courts will accept.
Once the parties have formalized their Agreement, the filing process in MD and DC is really not very complicated. Now most large firms do not even want to bother with these quickie divorces, they prefer to focus on the big cases. I actually prefer the smaller cases, and I firmly believe the clients that are committed to obtaining a quick and amicable settlement should be able to get just that, without incurring thousands of dollars in legal fees, which would be far better spent on their kids.
Reasonable lawyers with a reasonable approach to the divorce process are out there– you just need to do your homework.
Quickie Divorce? Yes, it is possible.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.