Getting divorced sucks. Americans spend $30 billion to unravel 850,000 marriages each year, often resulting in empty bank accounts, broken families, and depressed, anxious children. The divorce process has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, with health impacts lingering even after remarriage. And the fallout isn't limited to the home: A study found job productivity falls 40 percent during a divorce.
Maybe we're doing divorce wrong, says Michelle Crosby, co-founder and CEO of Wevorce. "Divorce isn't a legal problem," adds Crosby, a lawyer. "It just has legal implications." The less control a divorcing couple give to lawyers, she explains, the happier they will be with the outcome.
Founded in Boise, Idaho, in 2012, Wevorce is like a divorce-focused version of LegalZoom, the online legal-form and service purveyor. Using Wevorce is akin to going through mediation while taking an online course. Over a span of three months--typically, a conventional divorce lasts a year--clients move through the steps necessary to dissolve their marriage, from divvying up assets and negotiating child support to learning de-escalation techniques and handling the news on social media. The process is personalized for each couple with the aid of an algorithm similar to the one Netflix uses to recommend movies, and experts in areas such as child psychology and estate planning are brought in as needed for in-person or video consultations.
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD
Studies show that when parents use mediation during divorce, children are less traumatized by the experience.
The median cost is $5,500 (compared with $27,000 for a conventional divorce, says Crosby). Wevorce takes 10 percent (the rest goes to the lawyers and others who provide services), and the 400-plus professionals in its network pay fees for training, software tools, and client leads. More than 250 couples have used Wevorce, which projects $16 million in revenue in 2016, thanks to contracts with corporate employee-assistance programs and the U.S. military.
Then there are the emotional dividends. "When you get into that tug of war of who's right and who's wrong, it's the children who take the emotional hit," says Crosby. Wevorce has a 98 percent settlement rate, and 90 percent of clients say they'd recommend the service to a friend. "Hopefully, someday we'll be the norm and the old way will seem barbaric," says Crosby.