Wevorce – A Better Way To Get a Divorce?

WevorceA new divorce service recently launched called Wevorce.

The service promises a less acrimonious, more peaceful and rational way for a couple to get a divorce. Rather than both spouses being represented separately by counsel, which most often ends up in an adversarial situation with escalating legal fees, Wevorce has created a new process which sounds like divorce mediation, but is actually much more.

A lawyer who is also a mediator –  the process of reaching a settlement between the spouses which includes resolving property division, custody and parenting issues, child support, and spousal support issues. When needed the team is augmented by co-parenting and financial experts to assist in the resolution process. The company claims to have developed proprietary software that aids in the resolution process. Wevorce itself is not a law firm or a divorce mediation firm. Instead it is a technology platform that is licensed to other lawyers and professionals who subscribe to the Wevorce resolution process.

This is not a fully online service. Instead the parties meet in a local office that is licensed to a local attorney under the Wevorce brand. Meetings with the parties are in person. If the parties reach agreement they are provided with the forms they need to secure an uncontested divorce.

Collaborative Divorce

I am not sure how this is radically different from divorce mediation or a process called collaborative divorce, which are also alternative dispute settlement methods. In a collaborative divorce both parties are represented by counsel and the parties enter into a binding agreement that provides that if the process breaks down, their lawyers can’t represent the parties in court in an adversarial proceeding. In the case of Wevorce, there is only one attorney called the Legal Architect and there is no such agreement. Wevorce is a non-binding process, so if no agreement is reached, the parties can still battle it out in court.

The difference may be that there are other experts who are part of the team to help the couple resolve all of their issues plus the proprietary software that Wevorce has developed that reduces the cost of the case management process and assists in helping the parties reach agreement by working through a series of scenarios that enable the parties to understand each side’s position with more clarity and empathy.  If so that would be an major advance over traditional divorce mediation, and is the kind of software-assisted mediation that I believe will be wide-spread in the future.

Wedivorce was founded by Michelle Crosby, a family law, and Jeff Reynolds, her technology partner. The company received seed funding as a result of their experience in participating in Y Combinator,  a famous Silicon Valley incubator. Reportedly, the company has raised over $1,400,000 in venture capital.

Cost

The fees for the service average $7,500 and range between $3,500 to $15,000, compared to the legal fees in the average divorce of $27,000.00.

Will this concept work? It’s still an expensive service that is not affordable by 90% of the US population. There is still lots of competition for a low-cost divorce. If a couple can resolve their issues and reach agreement the result is an uncontested divorce that the couple where the couple can represent themselves. There are many legal web sites where the correct legal forms can be acquired at very low cost or even for free.  Law firms are offering uncontested divorce forms bundled with legal advice for a relatively low fee, with the option for divorce mediation if only one or two issues divide the couple and all for under $1,000.00  See for example: FlashDivorce.

As an alternative path for upper income couples who ordinarily might lawyer up, Wevorce could be a bargain if the parties can get to agreement easily. Online divorce mediation services that are lower in cost are just getting underway, and are not a good alternative for many couples. Many couples need a third party professional to help them reach agreement. The question often gets down to cost. Couples will settle for a “good enough” solution in order to save on fees and move on with their lives.  Even $3,000.00 is much more than many couples can afford. Only time will tell whether this service will be viable.

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