In what’s certain to be a sign of the times, Internet-based legal tools are propping up everywhere with fierce intensity. You’ve seen the do-it-yourself Will kits and bargain basement pricing for boilerplate contract precedents. But now, if ManangeMyDivorce.com finds traction in the online legal marketplace, people could soon be masterminding their divorce and separation battles with the proverbial click of a button.
The site advertises itself as beinig able to provide clients with a road map, structure and support throughout the divorce process. Resources include video tutorials, “general background advice”, and suggestions from a team of professionals that includes a social worker, a “business/executive coach”, and, curiously, a freelance journalist. ManageMyDivorce.com’s self-described “holistic” approach offers “time management and self-reflection tools available to help clients look after themselves.”
But is this really a do-it-yourself money-and-headache saver, or just another way to reduce your net worth in the course of the divorce process? ManageMyDivorce.com says its primary objective is reducing “the three major expenses of divorce — time, money and emotional turmoil — while providing general background information, rather than specific legal, financial or other personal advice.” No, for that, you’ll need to talk to your own lawyer or other professional advisor. The site readily admits that its services are “not designed to replace these professionals, but rather to compliment [sic] them.”
The key to the site, it seems, is facilitating the gathering, consolidating and sharing of information. Indeed, most of the online tools we looked at were really repositories of basic information that every family lawyer is bound to ask you at your first meeting (of many). While clients will undoubtedly save time and money by knowing what information to gather before talking to a lawyer, we’re not convinced that dumping all of this information on ManageMyDivorce.com (at a monthly rate that ranges from about $30-$37, depending on which stage of the divorce process you’re already in, and with additional charges for data stored in excess of the introductory 5MB allotment) adds any meaningful value to what for most will already be a very expensive proposition.
The cynical among us might wonder whether the vaguely described tools this site offers are part of a ploy to prey on the vulnerable pool of soon-to-be divorcees. Faced with the unappetizing prospect of breaking a family apart and splitting one’s assets through an emotionally-charged (and hugely expensive) battle, it’s easy to imagine many folks seeing this site as an quick and cheap way to save some bucks. After all, what’s a measly $37 monthly fee compared to a family lawyer’s hourly rates? But will it actually help clients “maintain the lines of communication, reduce conflict and stress, and establish civility and accountability” as promised? If so, it may be the best 37 bucks (a month) ever spent, and family lawyers should watch out!