In the Spring 2014 newsletter The Professional Family Mediator, Pascal Comvalius authors “Divorce Hotel on TV: Exploitation of Pain?”. The story is about a service where married couples check into a luxury hotel married, and emerge from a long weekend – presto – divorced! This latest divorce-ploitation horror orginates in Europe but it is certain to find adherents here, too. Can you say “California”? And, it is coming to your flat screen as a Fox reality show in development. No joke.
Mr. Comvalius’ piece focuses on the reality TV version of this very poor idea, citing the perversity of snaring low-income yet telegenic clients with fee-waived weekends, in return for TV rights; and the ability of the poor children of these couples to later view archived episodes of their parents’ divorces. Both legitimate anxieties.
But what reality reality? Divorce hotel, without the cameras, strikes us as about the trivialization of the divorce itself. Divorce, if taken seriously, should be difficult. It is serious emotional and financial business. It can also be edifying, and emotionally life-saving if handled sensitively and well. Packaging an emotion-packed, financially intense transaction about the rest of life, into 48 luxury hours, can’t help but strip the participants of dignity, and as importantly, deny them the right of a knowing and considered decision about anything.
As divorce mediators, we are all for stripping the divorce process of it gratuitous stresses, wasted time and unnecessary costs. We provide a safe space for people to take it at their pace, with time to reflect, to consult and to plan. Divorce Hotel provides an antidote to the adversarial system that may work for some, but for most, we suspect, the medicine will be worse than the disease.
And, just imagine the promos on the next Fox Super Bowl….