The Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce Online
Way back in 1967, a couple of psychologists named Holmes and Rahe discovered a positive correlation between illness and stressful life events. Thus was born the “Holmes and Rahe Stress Inventory,” a list of 43 stressful life events that can literally make you sick. Of the top-10 items on that list that are bound to get you feeling under the weather, half of them involve marriage:
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
Turns out that half of life’s most stressful events surround the age-old institution of marriage. Now before we move on, we’re not arguing against marriage in any way. It’s a structure that has served society well and is the optimal way to raise children based on the literature that supports this conclusion, like Mary Parke’s piece on What Research Says About the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being. That piece also touches on what we’re here to talk about today – divorce.
While 5 of the 10 most stressful events in life can be avoided by not getting married, we’re here to focus on just one of those events. Not surprisingly, the second most stressful life event is divorce. While countries like the Philippines avoid the problem by making divorce illegal, it’s a practice that’s alive and well in ‘Murica. With the average divorce in America costing anywhere between $15,000 to upwards of $27,000 when contested, some companies are proposing that technology can be used to cut down on attorney fees and help determine how screwed you’re going to be if you’re one of those fortunate souls – 97% of whom are men – who get to pay alimony.
While there may be some room for technology to be applied here, we’re immediately skeptical that some AI algorithms are going to make everything better. In our previous article on artificial intelligence and law, we looked at the many applications in the legal world for using algorithms. Now, let’s look at some of the cheapest ways to get a divorce online, some of which use artificial intelligence.
Two People, One Attorney
Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley startup Wevorce has taken in $6.5 million in funding to develop a web-based platform that focuses on getting couples to separate amicably. In many cases, each spouse gets an attorney, then both of these vampires work together behind the scenes to maximize the amount of money they can suck out of someone else’s unfortunate situation. Unlike the traditional two-attorney system, Wevorce offers a single attorney-mediator known as a “Wevorce Architect,” to guide both spouses.
At a cost of just $949, you’ll get documents that are guaranteed to be court-compliant, with the average divorce taking just 30 days so you’ll be back in the arms of your mistress in no time. If you’re looking for a similar offering in the United Kingdom, check out a startup called Amicable.
Predicting Child Support and Alimony
Founded in 2017, Detroit startup Divorce.ai has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a tool that lets you estimate all of your post-divorce payments and incomes, asset separation options, future budget, net worth, and more. The first question to ask here is, can we do the same thing without using artificial intelligence? Yes, we can, however, if this company has managed to get access to a database of divorce settlements by state, for example, they might be able to better predict what the outcome of your divorce would look like based on previous settlements. Artificial intelligence is only useful when there is “big data” behind it, so when this firm lets us know what big data their algorithms use, we’ll update this in a jiffy. Access to the tool, which lets you predict alimony, child support, net worth, and the likelihood that you’ll turn into a full-blown alcoholic as a result of the process, will set you back $25 for three months.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce Documents
If you are two adults who managed to make your way to the altar and get married, why don’t you just act like two adults and make your way to the courthouse and file the divorce papers? A do-it-yourself divorce without involving an attorney can be possible with the free documents provided by a company called Rocket Lawyer which provides all the documents for you to fill out yourself. They even have attorneys on staff who can help answer questions. Founded in 2008, San Francisco startup Rocket Lawyer has taken in just over $46 million in funding to become the premier provider of simple and affordable online legal services. With investors like Google Ventures, Morgan Stanley, and LexisNexis, you can be assured that the people you’re working with have been vetted and it’s not just some John-in-Mumbai type dispensing legal advice that’s being read from some script. If you can’t manage to do this without arguing, then proceed to the next option.
Getting Divorced with LegalZoom
The article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the biggest player out there when it comes to online legal documentation, LegalZoom. Founded in 1999, Glendale, California startup LegalZoom has taken in a whopping $811 million in funding so far to build an alternative to the traditional law firm. They are the leading provider of online legal document services and legal plans to families and small businesses, also providing affordable legal services and access to experienced attorneys. When you navigate to their homepage and look at the services they offer, the link to “divorce” leads to a page that shows they’ve partnered with the aforementioned startup, Wevorce. That’s a huge vote of confidence for Wevorce’s product offering, and it seems like only a matter of time before LegalZoom puts some of their cash to work and just outright acquires them. Considering that LegalZoom raised $500 million of their funding this past summer, they certainly have the cash to do so.
The Future of Divorce
An article by Bloomberg News titled Robots Are Taking Divorce Lawyers’ Jobs, Too talks about how “couples in the Netherlands can use an online platform to negotiate divorce, custody, and child-support agreements.” Similar solutions are said to be rolling out in other countries like the U.K. and Canada. The government of Australia provided funding in 2017 to look at using artificial intelligence to help automate the more than 48,000 divorces processed each year. There’s now an Australian startup called Adieu which offers “intelligent divorce for amicable couples in Australia” along with an Ai-powered “consensus accelerator.” Even zee Germans are getting in on the act, with a group of legal and tech entrepreneurs in Berlin having built a “consensus-finding engine” called Sondier.ai which helps people solve disputes but is still in concept stage. Another startup we came across, called Separate.us, wants to bring divorces online, but seems to have stalled based on inactive social media sites and a lackluster website.
While there are probably other solutions out there trying to make divorce less painful, we’ve given you a few tools here that you can use to save money on your divorce. More importantly, tools like Wevorce are validated not only by the caliber of their investors but also by the fact that they’ve received a vote of confidence from the biggest provider of online legal services out there. There are loads of fly-by-night firms offering “online divorce services,” and loads of horror stories from the consumers that used these shoddy outfits.
If you have a divorce tech startup with some funding and traction that’s not on this list, the reason we “missed” your startup is because during the time we spent researching this topic, the name of your startup didn’t come up. Hire a better PR firm, or just give us the money instead and we’ll see if we can help you spread the word. Please just make sure you have funding, traction, and a story to tell.
A research institute called Statistic Brain published some interesting research that claims of the 55% of marriages around the globe that are arranged, only 6% of those end in divorce. Some speculate that’s because people who have agreed to be together sight unseen have some incentive to work through differences that are expected when they enter into the marriage agreement with someone they know very little about. If Americans are going to trivialize marriage and normalize divorce, what’s the incentive to get married? Marriage should mean something more than just an avenue for wealth redistribution.
Oh, who are we kidding? We’re talking about America here, the land of drive-in marriages and algorithm-driven divorces. People will always be getting divorced, and at least these startups put less money in the pockets of divorce attorneys, people who we put in the same category as mass murderers, public relations people who want us to write about their clients for free, and those guys in the bathroom at clubs who hand you a towel and expect a tip.