Summer is coming to a close, the kids are getting ready to head back to school, and some of you may be getting a jump start on planning a winter getaway. Something for everyone to look forward to.

Other couples may be planning a different type of trip: a “Destination Divorce.”

Yes, Destination Divorces are a “thing”. Why not try to make what can be an otherwise unpleasant experience slightly more bearable by surrounding yourself with exotic accommodations? Plus, there is a built in incentive to settle efficiently: the sooner a separation agreement is signed, the sooner you can enjoy the beach/golf course/spa, etc.

There are several “Divorce Hotels” that have popped up in North America and Europe, New York and London, England to name a few.

But before you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse go booking your flights and tee-time (or massage), there are several points you may want to consider.

  1. Jurisdiction: Is your marriage recognized in the jurisdiction? Are there residency requirements to obtain a divorce in that jurisdiction? Will the divorce be recognized in your home jurisdiction?
    Each jurisdiction will have different requirements which may impact a couple’s ability to obtain a divorce in that jurisdiction, or the validity of their divorce in their home country. 
  2. Financial Disclosure: if your separation involves financial issues, such as division of property, spousal support and child support, both you and your spouse should be obtaining complete financial disclosure from the other. If you have not completed this step, thoroughly, prior to leaving for a destination divorce, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get your hands on all the necessary documents while in another jurisdiction. Think: forgetting your favourite bathing suit, but much, much worse. One way to avoid this problem would be to go through the financial disclosure process with counsel prior to leaving for the destination. In this situation, the destination divorce would be similar to a well-prepared mediation.
  3. Independent legal advice: this point I cannot stress enough. In a separation, both spouses have legal rights and obligations. Having an experienced family lawyer to advocate for you, or at least review a draft separation agreement with you before it is signed, is an important way to ensure that you are getting what you are legally entitled to and a fair deal. As with any mediation, the facilitator or mediator at the divorce hotel is not your legal representative and should not be giving you legal advice. 

You should consult with an experienced family lawyer if you are thinking about a destination divorce. Contact the Family Law Practice Group at Harrison Pensa for more information.  

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