There are plenty of reality shows on television that focus on marriage proposals and elaborate preparations for weddings. Two new shows will be premiering on T.V. that focus on a less celebrated part of a marriage – the divorce. The creator of a popular mediation program in the Netherlands, called the “Divorce Hotel”, is preparing to film his unique divorce process and have it air on U.S. television. Additionally, a new show called “Divorce Diva” will begin airing episodes this year on the Bravo network.
Divorce Hotel is based on a concept created by Jim Halfens, a Dutch entrepreneur. Couples seeking an uncontested divorce travel to a luxury hotel at the beginning of a weekend and meet with a team of experts including mediators, lawyers, psychologists and financial advisors. When the weekend is over, the couple leaves the hotel with a fully completed agreement ready to be filed for divorce. The spouses stay in separate bedrooms and a suite is used for all mediation talks. The concept sparked a reality show in the Netherlands and the show is expected to launch in the U.S. in the fall.
Divorce Diva is a reality show with a different concept. Well-known divorce mediator Vikki Ziegler will try to help divorcing couples come to negotiated agreements through mediation and without expensive and lengthy court battles. Each episode will feature a different couple and show whether Ziegler was ultimately able to help them reach a settlement .
The knee jerk reaction to some of these new shows is that they are exploitative, and seek to make entertainment out of what is a painful and stressful time. Yet there may be value to them as well.
The Divorce Hotel concept is actually just a sped-up version of a traditional collaborative divorce model, which is often very effective for couples seeking a divorce. The hotel setting and weekend duration may be gimmicks, but the idea of having couples agree to work through issues with the help of experienced professionals is not. The fact is that many couples find that reaching a mutually beneficial settlement through collaboration is the least expensive and least stressful way to handle a divorce.
Hopefully, while most people might start watching these reality shows primarily for their entertainment value, they can also learn something about the collaborative process and see that divorce does not necessarily have to be the bitter court fight it is often shown as in popular media.
Michele Martin is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA) serving the Capital District of New York including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren, Fulton and Washington Counties.
Michele M. Martin Divorce Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CFDATM)