A new website allows users to get a divorce entirely online at a fraction of the cost.
As a practicing Portland family law attorney, Nicole Schaefer had been thinking for a while about how to streamline the process of divorce. Like many attorneys, she faced pushback from clients who resented the fees and the disruption of endless meetings at her office.
Schaefer got the idea for creating a divorce website, which would allow people to arrange a divorce online at a fraction of the cost of using an attorney. She got the idea for the website from ‘itsovereasy.com’ – a California-based divorce platform.
Her online service – ‘letsuntietheknot.com’ – launched in October, allows users to file for uncontested divorce in Oregon. Users have the option to pay four different packages: Free ($0), Basic ($750), Pro ($1,500 and Premium ($2,500). The cheapest option gives users an overview of the necessary paperwork and allows them to test the site. The most expensive files divorce for both spouses.
Users don’t need to know anything about divorce law to use the site, Schaefer says. A computer program asks clients a series of questions and then automatically generates the documents to be filed with the court.
The platform turns the traditional “fee-for-time” model on its head. The average cost of a single family law attorney is $17,250. Costs often escalate. Usually clients don’t know what the final cost will be, as most lawyers charge by the hour.
“There is a huge lack of affordable legal services,” says Schaefer. “People get disillusioned by the whole thing.”
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The simplification of the legal process is a sobering development for divorce attorneys everywhere. Automation has arrived, and with it the obliteration of traditional revenue models.
But this kind of fee-for-service model is the future of law, says the attorney. Indeed, online divorce is not an alien concept for millennials brought up on internet technology and social media.
“People want more immediate results. The future are these websites, where the client feels in control,” says Schaefer.
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