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Property division concerns likely to stall U.S. "divorce hotel"

Reality TV, it seems, gets more personal every season, and for better or for worse, marriage and divorce may soon play a starring role. A European entrepreneur, who created a so-called divorce hotel in his native Netherlands, wants to spread the concept, possibly to the United States. With many reality shows filmed in North Texas, the Lone Star State could soon see ratings continue to climb.

Jim Halfens, a Dutch man who operates an attorney service, created a unique lodging house in which couples can check in married and check out divorced, with the entire process occurring over a long weekend. He wants to transfer the concept to a reality TV show and has considered locations in the U.S. for his endeavor. American property division laws, however, could thwart his plans: they vary by state and can differ in describing marital and community property.

Halfens' Divorce Hotel website lists the variety of professionals that offer guidance on dissolving unions: tax attorneys, real estate agents and notaries, just to name a few.

While media reports hint at production deals already in the works, Halfens' entertainment goals may be hindered in the United States. From determining assets to pinpointing ownership of residences, cars, and household valuables, property division processes could prevent such a show in America.

In Texas, for instance, individuals may keep their separate property in divorce, but judges will often have to divide community property. Community property can include assets that either spouse buys during the marriage, with community funds or separate funds as the source.

Dividing property can take a bit of time -- almost always more than a long weekend. Halfens will likely have to continue being creative in his approach to make the concept work here.

Source: Forbes, "Las Vegas is about to become irrelevant: say hello to 'Divorce Hotel'!" Julia Bricklin, May 27, 2012

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

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