Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Divorce: How to remain financially secure

From CNBCAfrica.com:

Unfortunately divorce is an all too common reality in our current times. Statistics reflect that as the year winds down to a close, partners contemplate the reality of dissolving a union that is no longer working.

Most people going through a divorce will agree that the initial stages can be overwhelming – in fact the changes happen so quickly that the alternative - to stick their head in the sand and hide, may well seem a more attractive option.

As with most daunting undertakings, a plan and a checklist will assist. There are a few essential steps that need to be taken in contemplation of divorce proceedings to ensure that the financial settlement will be fair and you will be financially independent and secure once the divorce is finalised.

This is according to Lisa Griffiths, Associate Director of BDO Wealth Advisers, who highlights the following list of “to-do’s” to prepare for divorce:

1.  Establish a team of professional advisers

“Firstly, it is essential that you find your own lawyer and that it should not be a person who has or will act for your spouse.”

“Also ensure that you have your own financial planner – their role will be critical in analysing the financial data. Once again, your planner should not be a person who will also act for your spouse – there is a clear conflict of interest!”

2.  Gather all of your financial information and documentation

“You need to be fully aware of the complete and complex financial situation facing you. Understand all of your debts — not only what the two of you have jointly, but also individually. To avoid any unforeseen surprises, you need to comprehend the full picture on credit card accounts, home loans, car finance and even other items such as personal loans, business debts and retail accounts. You must be prepared to disclose your full financial status.”

“Be prepared. It is so much easier to navigate divorce negotiations if you have the full financial information available early on in the proceedings,” says Griffiths, who goes on to advise that one should also keep a second set of documentation in a safe place.

Read more here.

November 12, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Opening doors for women and children when domestic violence hits home

From The Guardian:

Homeless women need somewhere to live. Landlords need someone to manage their properties. Put the two together and the result is a solution to a significant social issue.

Melbourne’s Property Initiatives Real Estate manages apartments for investors and developers, and directs all profitstowards developing long-term housing for women and children in need.

Jeanette Large is the chief executive of the agency, which operates as a fixed trust under Women’s Property Initiatives (WIP), a not-for-profit company which develops and owns the properties. Large says most of the women housed have escaped family violence.

Indeed, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says one-third of the 520,000 people who sought help from Australian homelessness services between 2011 and 2014 did so because of domestic violence.

Launched in April 2015, Large says the real estate agency was created to overcome the funding limitations of philanthropy. WIP has always depended on donations and government grants and needed to find a way to become more self-sustaining while continuing to grow.

Read more here.

November 5, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Woman who says ex-partner misrepresented wealth wins appeal

From The Guardian:

A woman who says she did not get enough money when an 18-year same-sex relationship ended because a wealthy ex-partner “misrepresented” the size of her fortune has won the latest round of a legal battle.

Helen Roocroft, who is in her 40s and comes from Bolton, Greater Manchester, accepted a settlement of about £200,000 after separating from Carol Ainscow, a property developer, in 2009.

But she said Ainscow, who died aged 55 three years ago, “misrepresented her wealth”. She took legal action against a representative of Ainscow’s estate in the hope of getting more.

Roocroft lost the first round of her fight in a family court two years ago. But three appeal court judges have ruled in her favour. Lord Justice Elias, Lord Justice Kitchin and Lady Justice King said on Friday that the case should be reanalysed by a high court judge.

Read more here.

October 23, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 14, 2016

California Child Support: The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered

From The Huffington Post:

  1. How is it determined? Child support in California is based on a statewide guideline. The formula by which it is determined is rather complex. As a result, it is usually calculated by attorneys using one of a few computer programs licensed by companies that provide legal research software. The calculation is based upon the number of children, the income of each of the parents, the timeshare that each parent has custody, their tax filing status, and their tax-deductible expenses;

  2. Is there a dollar limit on the amount of support that one can be ordered to pay? Unlike some states, California does not provide for a cap in the amount of support to be ordered. The guideline calculation is the presumptively legal calculation in most cases. There are some very limited instances when the court can deviate from this, discussed below.

  3. What happens if the calculation generates an amount that is clearly higher than what is necessary to raise a child? The guideline calculation may or may not generate such a result. What is necessary to raise a child varies on a case-by-case basis. The law provides that a child is entitled to have a lifestyle commensurate with that of his or her parents. For this reason, a child support calculation that improves the lifestyle of the lower income parent is often upheld by the court. In those instances when the child support amount is so excessive that it bears no reasonable relationship to either the lifestyle of the parents or the amount of support required to raise a child commensurate with that lifestyle, the court may deviate from the guideline.

Read the answers and more here.

 
 

October 14, 2016 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New York Expands the Definition of Parent for Unmarried Couples

From Nolo.com:

On August 30, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision in In the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C. As a result, New York now recognizes that children may have a second parent not related to them by blood, adoption, or marriage.  

The Brooke S.B. case involved Brooke and Elizabeth—unmarried partners in a lesbian couple—who were engaged to be married in 2007. In 2008, Elizabeth became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a baby boy. Brooke had no legal or biological ties to the child, but she maintained a close, parental relationship with him for years, which included giving him her last name and raising him jointly with Elizabeth.

The couple separated in 2010, and in 2013, Elizabeth began restricting Brooke’s contact with the child, so Brooke filed for custody.

Read more here.

October 12, 2016 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction, Cohabitation (live-ins), Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In Lebanon, a Tangle of Religious Laws Govern Life and Love

From The Atlantic:

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- When May Omari, now 45, tied the knot at age 23, she married a secular man in a secular marriage in New York City. As a formality, and to appease their Lebanese families, they later held a brief religious ceremony in Beirut. A Sunni Muslim mufti, or religious leader, came to her house, the couple signed a few papers, and she put them in a drawer.

After 18 years of married life and a move back to Lebanon, they decided to divorce. At that point, her religious marriage came back to haunt her. Although her husband had never shown a hint of piety in the past, she says, the prevailing interpretation of sharia family law in Lebanon granted him custody of the couple's two sons. And when he took them -- along with all the furniture -- there was nothing she could do.

 
Read more here.

October 11, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Exonerated inmate's $20M settlement is marital property in divorce, appeals court says

From the ABA Journal:

An exonerated inmate who married his wife while he was in prison can’t exclude his $20 million wrongful conviction settlement from marital property, an Illinois appeals court has ruled.

The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Juan Rivera and Melissa Sanders-Rivera, the Chicago Tribune reports. Rivera had been imprisoned since his arrest in the 1992 murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker; he was cleared by DNA evidence and released from prison in January 2012.

Rivera was married on Halloween in 2000; he filed for divorce in May 2014. His settlement payout, after taxes and attorney fees, was about $11.4 million, according to court records cited by the Tribune.

Rivera had argued that the settlement was not marital property because it stemmed from conduct that occurred in 1992. Sanders-Rivera said the settlement is marital property because it stemmed from a lawsuit filed as a result of Rivera’s overturned conviction in 2011.

The appeals court sided with Sanders-Rivera in a Sept. 30 decision.

Read more here.

October 9, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Property Division | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Can I Serve Divorce Papers Myself?

From FindLaw: Law and Daily Life:

When you file divorce papers, the court clerk stamps all the copies, keeps a few, and gives one back to you with a stamped summons, and maybe a stack of other informational documents. Then what? Then, you actually need to have the papers served on your soon-to-be ex. This process is called Service of Process. But, can you serve the papers yourself?

Generally, when you serve initial court papers, you are not the person actually delivering the papers. Almost every state has professional process servers, who, for a fee, will deliver your documents and sign a proof of service form. While some states offer alternative methods of service apart from personal delivery, personal delivery is the best method to ensure receipt cannot be disputed.

Read more here.

When you file divorce papers, the court clerk stamps all the copies, keeps a few, and gives one back to you with a stamped summons, and maybe a stack of other informational documents. Then what? Then, you actually need to have the papers served on your soon-to-be ex. This process is called Service of Process. But can you serve the papers yourself?

Generally, when you serve initial court papers, you are not the person actually delivering the papers. Almost every state has professional process servers, who, for a fee, will deliver your documents and sign a proof of service form. While some states offer alternative methods of service apart from personal delivery, personal delivery is the best method to ensure receipt cannot be disputed.

- See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2016/09/can-i-serve-divorce-papers-myself.html#sthash.AOESZnaR.dpuf

When you file divorce papers, the court clerk stamps all the copies, keeps a few, and gives one back to you with a stamped summons, and maybe a stack of other informational documents. Then what? Then, you actually need to have the papers served on your soon-to-be ex. This process is called Service of Process. But can you serve the papers yourself?

Generally, when you serve initial court papers, you are not the person actually delivering the papers. Almost every state has professional process servers, who, for a fee, will deliver your documents and sign a proof of service form. While some states offer alternative methods of service apart from personal delivery, personal delivery is the best method to ensure receipt cannot be disputed.

- See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2016/09/can-i-serve-divorce-papers-myself.html#sthash.AOESZnaR.dpuf

When you file divorce papers, the court clerk stamps all the copies, keeps a few, and gives one back to you with a stamped summons, and maybe a stack of other informational documents. Then what? Then, you actually need to have the papers served on your soon-to-be ex. This process is called Service of Process. But can you serve the papers yourself?

Generally, when you serve initial court papers, you are not the person actually delivering the papers. Almost every state has professional process servers, who, for a fee, will deliver your documents and sign a proof of service form. While some states offer alternative methods of service apart from personal delivery, personal delivery is the best method to ensure receipt cannot be disputed.

- See more at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2016/09/can-i-serve-divorce-papers-myself.html#sthash.AOESZnaR.dpuf

September 14, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Resources - Divorce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Carolyn Hax: A separated couple is struggling to find a way to reconcile

From the Washington Post:

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been separated from my wife of 19 years and three kids for a few months. The separation stemmed from my infidelity — a mistake I made to run from my marital problems instead of to communicate, try to work through them and take a stand for my happiness. It was cowardly, and I regret it deeply.

We are in couples counseling and both want to find a way to reconcile, but we are struggling to get there. She can’t forgive me, and I am unable to convince her I am sorry enough without completely submitting and denying my authenticity.

I miss my kids terribly and this is hard on them. The truth is, though, that I want to reconcile only to unify the family. For all our sakes, personally and financially. Spending time alone with my wife is something I dread, as she is angry, judgmental and constantly telling me all the things I’m doing wrong. This describes our marriage previous to the infidelity.

When is it time to give up and move on? I’m living half a life.

Separated

Read more here.

July 22, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Programme aims to help people affected by 'parental alienation'

From The Guardian:

Parental alienation – a phenomenon where one parent poisons their child against the other parent – has become such a feature of the most difficult family breakdowns that Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, is to offer targeted support for those affected following a government-funded intensive therapeutic pilot programme.

Distinct from the all-too-common acrimony between divorcing parents, the syndrome is an internationally recognised phenomenon. In America and Canada, “parenting coordinators” are ordered and supervised by the courts to help restore relationships between parents and children identified as “alienated”. In Mexico and Brazil, alienating a child from a parent is a criminal act.

Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept 20 years ago, defining it as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.”

Read more here.

July 20, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Resources - Child Custody, Resources - Child Support, Resources - Children & the Law, Resources - Divorce, Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Quick Revenue for Desperate Times

From Divorce Discourse:

People don’t remember you. I’m sorry. They don’t.

It’s not that you’re unremarkable. I’m sure you’re about as interesting as they come. Personally, I find you irresistible, and I’m not likely to forget you—ever.

But other people suck. They have their own lives and their own problems, and they’re focused on themselves. They’ll forget you nine minutes after you finish paying for their lunch.

Seriously, they’ve got big problems. They have an unexplained rash, the cat keeps peeing on the sofa, and their spouse is screwing the barista. Not surprisingly, you are not at the top of the list of things to think about.

So you’re getting hungry during a slow month, and you need some new clients. You’d like those absent-minded referral sources to think about you. Actually, you’d like them to do more than think. You’d like some business sent your way. Ideally, the phone would start ringing, right now.

How do you remind them that you exist?

Read more here.

June 24, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ohio lawyer who participated in sexting exchange with matrimonial client is suspended

From the ABA Journal:

An Ohio lawyer has been suspended from practice for a year by the state’s top court, with six months stayed, for participating in a sexually charged exchange of text messages with a matrimonial client.

The texts, which were “mutual, reciprocal and very explicit and graphic,” according to records in the case, violated an attorney ethics rule that bans a lawyer from soliciting or engaging in sexual activity with a client, except when a consensual sexual relationship predates the lawyer-client relationship, according to Civitas Media and the Toledo Blade.

Read more here.

June 21, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Judge OKs malpractice suit over law firm's successful fight to uphold client's postnuptial agreement

Malpractice Suit on Firms Negotiated Post-nuptial Agreement Gains Traction

From the ABA Journal:

A New York trial court has OK’d a malpractice suit against Phillips Nizer, over the law firm’s handling of a divorce case that generated $1.4 million in legal fees for work done by 23 attorneys and 16 other professionals.

At issue is a 2000 postnuptial agreement that the firm helped negotiate and draft for client Elizabeth Berardi. It granted her a 49 percent interest in companies controlled by her husband, who operates bus companies. However, the pact did not specify whether she could liquidate her interest and, if so, how she could do so, reports the New York Law Journal (sub. req.).

A divorce ensued within five years, and Berardi again retained Phillips Nizer. Her husband, Eugene Berardi, challenged the postnup and she fought against its invalidation, winning the legal battle. However, unbeknownst to her, agreements made before 2000 with former shareholders and business partners in her husband’s companies limited the liquidity of her own interest, Elizabeth Berardi alleges in her complaint against the firm.

Read more here.

May 25, 2016 in Attorneys, Divorce (grounds), Resources - Divorce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

What Does “No Fault” Divorce Mean?

"No Fault," what?

From HuffPost Divorce:

In 1970, the State of California originated the concept of “no-fault” divorce. The rationale behind the law was that there was no point in forcing people to stay in a marriage when they were not happy in it, and that requiring someone to prove legal grounds to dissolve the marriage was not serving any useful purpose. Historically, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery. This often required additional expenses on behalf of the aggrieved party, only serving to make the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was. In the years leading up to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce, courts often granted divorces on bases that were easier to prove, the most common being “mental cruelty.” In that situation, one spouse would testify that he or she was being subjected to mental stress as a result of the actions of the other spouse. Given that, and given that people simply did not want to be married, there seemed little reason to force them to stay in marriages when grounds could not be established. Over time, the “no-fault” movement expanded to other states, although interestingly it only reached the typically progressive state of New York in 2010.  

Read more here.

May 23, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

8 Steps to Rebuild Your Financial Life After Divorce

From MarketWatch:

If you’ve gone through it, you don’t need me to tell you how financially devastating divorce can be. Many people lose half (or more) of everything they’ve saved over their lives. This includes their home, retirement, business and investments. If that isn’t bad enough, divorced people often see their income wither while their expenses explode. No doubt about it, divorce is bad news financially.

Having said that, all is not lost. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your situation significantly. Specifically, if you’ve gone through divorce recently, here are eight things you can do now to help yourself get back on track as quickly as possible.

1. Do Not Panic Or Waste Energy

This is much easier said than done I realize, but you need every ounce of energy you can muster to rebuild your financial life. Don’t waste time worrying – it won’t help. Also, please know that you are not powerless. There are plenty of steps you can take that will help turn things around quickly (which I’ll share in a minute). Don’t worry. You have many choices, and as bad as it may seem, you probably aren’t going to be out in the street. Don’t waste energy worrying because it serves no purpose and saps you of the energy you need to get things back on track. (A divorce survival guide may be helpful too.)

2. Inventory Your Financial Life

You may or may not understand how finances and investments work right now, but that doesn’t matter. In time, you will improve your knowledge.

At this moment, it’s time to account for where you are and that means putting together an inventory of your financial life; income, expenses, assets and liabilities. I suggest you create a little spreadsheet or loose leaf binder. Make a separate sheet for income, another for expenses, another for assets and the last sheet for liabilities.

On each sheet, make a line item entry with the type of account, amount, who owns the account, what the rate is and the contact information at each institution.

It’s astonishing how empowering it is just to have one place to go to in order to get an overview of your finances. Knowledge is power, friend — take advantage of it.

Read more here.

May 1, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pope Francis Calls For More Grace, Less Dogma on Divorce and Remarriage

From NPR:

In a major document released Friday, Pope Francis addressed divisive elements of Catholic doctrine — including how to treat couples who remarry after a divorce that wasn't annulled by the church, and the church's stance on contraception.

Without issuing any new top-down doctrine, Francis said that priests should focus on providing pastoral care for Catholic couples, rather than sitting in judgment of them, and that individual conscience should be emphasized, rather than dogmatic rules.

The document — a post-synodal apostolic exhortation called "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love" — is more than 250 pages long.

In it, the pope emphasizes that life is more complicated than religious law. In the opening pages, he invokes the values of "generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience," but also says he wishes to "encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy."

 

He explains that in Amoris Laetitia, in addition to considering scripture, he will "examine the actual situation of families, in order to keep firmly grounded in reality." And he notes that Jesus set forth a demanding ideal for his followers — but "never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals."

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter told NPR's Morning Edition that the exhortation has a very different tone than previous church pronouncements on these subjects.

Read more here.

April 14, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Triple Talaq: India's Muslim Women Right Against Instant Divorce

From BBC News:

India is perhaps the only country in the world where a Muslim man can divorce his wife in a matter of minutes by just uttering the word talaq (divorce) three times. But this controversial practice of "triple talaq" is now facing a stiff challenge - the Supreme Court is considering whether to declare it unconstitutional, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi.

Shayara Bano's world came crashing down in October.

The 35-year-old mother of two was visiting her parents' home in the northern state of Uttarakhand for medical treatment when she received her talaqnama - a letter from her husband telling her that he was divorcing her.

Her attempts to reach her husband of 15 years, who lives in the city of Allahabad, have been unsuccessful.

"He's switched off his phone, I have no way of getting in touch with him," she told the BBC over phone from her home in the northern state of Uttarakhand. "I'm worried sick about my children, their lives are getting ruined."

In February, a frustrated Shayara Bano filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding a total ban on triple talaq which, she says, allows Muslim men to treat their wives like "chattel".

Muslims are India's largest minority community with a population of 155 million and their marriages and divorces are governed by the Muslim personal law, ostensibly based on the sharia.

Even though it has been practised for decades now, the unilateral instant triple talaq is clearly an aberration - it finds no mention in sharia or the Koran.

Islamic scholars say the Koran clearly spells out how to issue a divorce - it has to be spread over three months which allows a couple time for reflection and reconciliation.

Read more here.

April 13, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Indians Are Challenging Muslim Divorce Laws

From The Wall Street Journal:

India’s Supreme Court is considering petitions that challenge Muslim laws governing marriage on the grounds that they discriminate against women, a charged issue that risks angering the country’s orthodox Muslims.

A panel headed by the chief justice that is hearing the petitions directed the government this week to release an official 2015 report that looks at the impact of some of India’s religion-specific laws on women’s rights and recommends legal reform.

Among the petitioners calling for change is Shayara Bano, a Muslim woman whose husband, after 13 years of marriage, divorced her by triple talaq, a practice that allows Muslim men in India to leave their wives unilaterally and often instantaneously by saying “talaq,” meaning divorce, three times. Other similar petitions were put together by the court and are being heard at the same time.The next hearing in the case is expected in May.

The Indian constitution protects gender equality, but on issues of marriage, divorce and inheritance, different religious communities are governed by their own so-called personal laws. Whether a person is subject to those laws is usually determined by their religion at birth.

Muslim clerics and scholars have rebuffed demands for unifying personal laws into a common civil code for all Indian citizens—advocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party—rejecting what they call attempts to interfere with their religious practices in Hindu-majority India. There are more than 170 million Muslims in the country out of a 1.2 billion population.

Muslim women’s rights groups argue that the practice of triple talaq misinterprets the Quran and is protected by orthodox Muslim men to perpetuate patriarchy. In her petition, Ms. Bano asks the court to declare it illegal as it “practically treats women like chattel,” infringes their “basic right to live with dignity” and violates their fundamental rights to equality and life guaranteed under the constitution.

Read more here.

 

April 7, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Americans OK Gay Marriage, but Cautious on Divorce

From NBC News:

Americans are more accepting of gay relationships and couples living together before marriage — but they've grown less comfortable with divorce, a new survey shows.

The government periodically asks thousands of teens and younger adults what they think about changes in U.S. family relationships. The results released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics indicate a shift over a decade on a range of topics. But most surprising was what they said about divorce.

Asked if divorce is the best solution when a marriage is on the rocks, 38 percent of women agreed, down from 47 percent a decade earlier. For men, it was 39 percent, down from 44 percent.

Divorce in the U.S. has become more common through the generations, and there's an assumption that acceptance would be holding steady or perhaps increasing, some experts said.

There could be several explanations for the decline, said Wendy Manning, a family and marriage researcher at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Marriage rates are down and people are older when they first get married. So those who do marry are more likely to be in it to win it, she said.

"Marriage is becoming so selective that maybe people think if you achieve this status, you don't want to end it," said Manning.

Read more here.

March 22, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Untying the Knot Via Your Mobile Phone

From CNBC:

Since mobile apps have revolutionized the dating game, it's no surprise that apps to help you split up would follow.

It's never been easier to call it quits thanks to a slew of simple online offerings that can be accessed from any mobile phone aiming to help couples navigate the divorce process and avoid hefty legal fees along the way.

One start-up, Wevorce, offers a step-by-step "DIY" guide withmediators accessible by videoconferencing starting at $749. Through Separate.us, users can complete, file and serve divorce papers entirely online. That service costs somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, the company estimated.

Avvo, an established online legal marketplace, also recently launched a complete, uncontested divorce package, which includes a 30-minute phone call, for $995. And other online sites advertise uncontested divorces for even less.

"For better or for worse, technology has made it easier for people to split," said Avvo's general counsel and consumer advocate, Josh King.

Avvo helps users connect with a local lawyer of the customer's choice to complete the paperwork for the dissolution of a marriage. If more help is needed, the lawyer can provide additional counsel for an extra fee. But these packages are not for everyone, King said.

"The critical thing is that you don't have a lot of disagreements or complicated externalities," King said. "These products are designed to cover a wide range of people that have a fairly routine legal problem."

And as these tools that aim to achieve a more efficient — and affordable — divorce gain steam, experts warn that divorces are rarely that simple.

"If they have no assets and no children, you can do one of those divorces, no harm, no foul," said John Slowiaczek, president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But far more often, couples have other issues including alimony, child support, retirement accounts, real estate, student loans, investments, taxes, credit cards and so on, he said.

Read more here.

March 14, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)