A Heartache Can Be A Holiday: Destination Divorces

We’ve all heard of destination weddings. The exotic locales wrapped in romance and promise as a gloriously in-love couple exchanges vows on the Caribbean shore. Their closest friends and family fly in for the often-expensive, though memorable nuptials. There are many reasons one may choose a destination wedding: they can’t decide between their two hometowns, they wish to be married where they will honeymoon, they don’t want anyone but their closest friends and family present. Perhaps they want to marry the same place they first vacationed together.

For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction: enter destination divorces. For a (probably quite pricey) fee, you can get an all-inclusive divorce at the destination of your choice. You’re probably wondering why anyone would possibly want to go on a vacation together when they are divorcing, and why they would want to turn such an emotional time into a holiday. And the answer is pretty much the same as why people choose destination weddings: they don’t want to associate the divorce with anything they know, they want to keep fanfare and gossip to a minimum, perhaps they want to make it as non-traumatic as possible for any children they may have.

Maybe it’s an amicable split and they want to give a marriage that had some good times a glorious adieu. Whatever the reason, destination divorces aren’t only real, they’ve been happening for ages. That’s because many states had very stringent rules for divorce, such as waiting periods, or fault-only divorces, which some couples could not honestly say was the truth. This led to people seeking divorces elsewhere, including celebrities like Johnny Carson and Marilyn Monroe, who are said to have had divorces in Mexico.

In 1973, the Dominican Republic began offering a destination divorce package, a Spanish-language approximation of no-fault that included a lawyer and hotel room in the package price — then around $900, quite expensive for the time period. And today, companies like HotelDivorce are capitalizing on the allure. They provide flights, mediation, a lawyer for each party, fun for the kids, and separate or one hotel room, at your choice, for anywhere from $7,500 to $12,000. While the U.S. generally recognizes divorces that happen abroad, it is specific to each state, so make sure to know the legality of such choices before you make them.

While expensive hotels and beachfront mediations may seem odd, overblown, and expensive as a way to end something that wasn’t working, psychotherapists say they travel destinations are not the greatest expense of divorce. Washington, D,C,-based family law attorney Regina DeMeo says “The ugly, expensive divorces we see are usually the result of ever-escalating, anger-fueled court proceedings.”

“The complicating factor is never the money. The complicating piece is when people haven’t reigned in their emotions. It doesn’t matter if you have a billion dollars or $10. It’s the emotions that complicate the case.”

[photo courtesy of cadivorce.com]