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'Divorce Hotel' May Not Provide a Quick 'Check-Out' From Marriage

By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 16, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A "divorce hotel" is slated to open in upstate New York, but its future customers should check up on the law before they check in.

The Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, is set to be the American launching point for a Dutch-based "Divorce Hotel," one that has already been a "huge success" in the Netherlands, reports ABC's "Good Morning America." Divorce Hotel guests will be treated to two separate rooms, a divorce mediator, and presumably a legal divorce upon check-out.

But what should Divorce Hotel hopefuls know about the legal complications of a future trip?

It's Been Done Before... in the Netherlands

We blogged about this international phenomenon back in 2012, when the Divorce Hotel was operating solely in the Netherlands. Not to disparage our Dutch brethren, but divorce law in the Netherlands is somewhat different than those that govern ending marriages in the United States. While Dutch law may allow a couple to get divorced in a matter of weeks, even a non-contested divorce in America can take months thanks to state-imposed waiting periods and residency requirements.

Americans should realize that despite how easy it might be to untie the knot in other countries, the requirements for marriage in the United States pale in comparison to the requirements for divorce. In fact, New York was the last state to add no-fault divorce, which allows a speedier (but not instant) path to ending a marriage.

Residency Requirements

While you seldom need to be a resident of a state in order to obtain a marriage license there, you often need to be a resident in order to obtain a divorce. Same-sex couples who have taken advantage of legal out-of-state marriages have learned this the hard way when seeking to divorce.

More to the point, you don't need to be a New York resident to obtain a marriage in the Empire State, but you do need to be a resident to obtain a divorce there. Under the law, at least one spouse needs to have been a New York resident for one year to obtain a legal divorce in New York. And it may be two years if the couple wasn't married in New York.

Divorce Hotel's mediators can likely help eligible spouses wrap up their divorce settlement agreements, but they won't be able to make out-of-state guests eligible for a New York divorce.

That is, unless Divorce Hotel offers year-long stays.

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