Divorce can be expensive, drawn-out and painful. But one startup is betting that it can make divorce proceedings in the US more amicable for everyone involved. Wevorce, a new web-based divorce service, allows American couples to collaboratively dissolve their marriage by leading them through the process without the burdensome time and expense of a long court battle. The company has already received $US3 million in funding, and it's already helped hundreds of couples end their holy matrimony.
The startup's goal is fairly ambitious when you consider that much of divorce law is made up of people fighting over ownership of the things they once shared. There are also a lot of emotions when dissolving a marriage, which is probably why founder and CEO Michelle Crosby told us that Wevorce isn't actually for everyone. Crosby said, "Wevorce is really for those that are interested in settling their divorce out of court, working together to get that settlement."
It's a very mature way to look at divorce, but doesn't quite hide the grim nature of the business. Creating an account on Wevorce has the sad, but definitely necessary, reminder that your password needs to be one your soon-to-be-ex-spouse doesn't know.
Wevorce's free tools include a divorce checklist, a primer on how to tell your spouse about the divorce (if your spouse is shocked, angry and vindictive, Wevorce is probably not going to be enough help), and a "Before You Divorce Webinar" where divorce is described as the second most painful thing in an adult's life "behind death".
What's interesting about Wevorce's expansion plans are the partnerships the company is working on. Wevorce is already working with one of the biggest names in online US legal DIY, Legalzoom, on its divorce platform. It's also partnered with the military and large corporations to give specialised help for the unique issues presented by someone stationed overseas or the particular benefits a company gives its employees.
So why would corporations get involved in the personal lives of their employees? Because money. When an employee gets divorced, their pension and benefits all end up divided in some way. Crosby told us that they're figuring out how to tailor Wevorce to their business partners.
Crosby said, "each company may have a specific benefits package, and with the needs of that particular employee, say their 401k or how they're dividing their stock options, there may be something unique." And if there is, then a more automated divorce may not be for them. They will probably have to get in touch with a real life legal professional, which Wevorce will also provide.
She says that she wants to remove the "pain, time and expense" of divorce. Of course, you could append that to pretty much everything that we do over the internet rather than in person. Ebay does that for shopping. That's the attraction of going to a website instead of finding a lawyer yourself.
And that's why Wevorce is attractive to big companies. Employees who use the service are less likely to have to go to court since 98 per cent of Wevorce's cases are settled. The cheapest Wevorce service starts at $US750 ($1059), compared to the US national average divorce cost of $US27,000 ($38,140). Companies don't want employees spending that much time and money on their emotional lives. That's just inefficient, and it can hurt productivity.
The question is if we're going to see companies start rolling out e-divorces as a new benefit. Companies have tried startups for all sorts of things before, hoping to cut costs and raise efficiency. Why not this? Why not give your employer a say in every part of your life?