Who Would’ve Predicted That You Could File For Divorce Online?
In the 1990’s, if you wanted to buy a book, you’d drive to Barnes and Noble, browse for a while, and buy a book. And if you wanted to rent a movie, you’d drive to Blockbuster, browse for a while, and rent a movie.
Of course I know there are still a few bookstores and video rental stores in operation, but Amazon and Netflix affected the creative destruction of both industries in very short order.
Similarly, virtually 0% of divorces were done online just ten short years ago. But services like OurDivorce.com are rapidly changing how people get divorced.
At this point of the blog, I’d normally ask something like, “So why are so many people choosing to get their divorce papers online?”, but bluntly, that’s a stupid question. That’s like asking why so many people are choosing Netflix over Blockbuster. Duh!
Getting your divorce papers online is simply the next logical step in online services.
Cost, convenience, and speed to resolution are all factors that contribute to the rapid growth of online divorce. But age, technology, and the changing views of marriage and divorce are equally important.
A Brief History of Divorce
Divorce in the U.S. was quite rare in the 1800’s. In 1890, only 3 of every 1000 (or 0.3%) marriages ended in divorce. By 1920, the rate had risen to 8 of every 1000 (0.8%). The divorce rate remained low due – at least in part – to the fact that women were not allowed to sue for divorce. And even if they were allowed, most couldn’t work and therefore couldn’t afford it anyway.
Divorce was considered to “be against the public interest” so courts refused to grant divorce unless an “innocent” party could prove the other party was at “fault”.
Nevada was the first state to recognize the worth of the divorce industry and became the first state to recognize uncorroborated “extreme cruelty” as grounds for divorce. This, coupled with the state granting residency after only six weeks, allowed Nevada (specifically Reno) to be the divorce capital of the world for decades.
In 1969, California became the first state to allow for a “no fault” divorce.
In 2015, the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that Ellanora Baidoo could serve her husband divorce papers through a Facebook message, and she became the first to do so.
Today, the average marriage lasts just 11 years.
A Changing of the Guard
Regardless of the rate, location, or reasoning, lawyers have alway played a major role in the laws, practices, and costs associated with divorce.
Blockbuster and Barnes and Noble fought tooth and nail against their online competitors. And most divorce lawyers aren’t too happy with the changes they’re seeing either.
Case in point: just weeks after we launched, a divorce attorney filed a complaint with the Practice of Law Board accusing us of “Unauthorized Practice of Law”.
And this despite the legal disclaimer found on literally every page of our application, which includes the following:
- OurDivorce™ does not take the place of a lawyer, accountant, financial planner, or mental health professional…
- If you want or need professional advice, please seek the counsel of an appropriate professional to help you get the answers you need for your particular situation…
- OurDivorce™ encourages you to read other material, research other sources and consult with legal, financial and mental health professionals before you make any decisions that could affect the outcome of your divorce and your future.
Despite the total lack of merit to the claim, we were compelled to file a response which included (in part): “[…]the fact that we advertise and market more effectively than our competitors does not mean our advertising is false or misleading, that our services aren’t effective, or that we practice law any more than our online competitors practice law.”
Ultimately, we prevailed, which was not only a victory for OurDivorce.com, but also for any other predominantly “offline” service that could/should be served online.
Click here if you’d like to read our response in its entirety (names redacted).
But Wait! There’s More!
** Before reading any further, if you are in an abusive relationship, please stop reading right now and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) and get help.**
I thought, after winning that skirmish, that my interactions with that particular attorney had come to an end.
I was wrong.
Just last week, she commented on one of our TikTok videos. I can’t quote the comment directly because she has since deleted the comment and/or blocked us from seeing her account. But as close as I can remember, her comment read, “It’s on your head when an abuser murders one of your clients for serving them with your papers.”
Wow! That escalated quickly didn’t it?!
But let’s unpack it…
First, there is literally a 0% chance that any of our customers will be surprised when they’re served with papers generated by OurDivorce.com. Why? Because unlike the traditional adversarial process promoted by this attorney, OurDivorce.com requires both parties to participate in the process and agree with the outcome BEFORE any papers are generated.
Next, blaming OurDivorce.com if one of our clients were to be murdered by their abuser is at best irresponsible, but is more likely libel.
Finally, as she states in her complaint, “I spent years learning about the law but also about the risks in litigating divorces.” In my view, she’s made our case for us when she confirms that the risks are inherent in “litigating divorces” as opposed to amicably settling divorces.
I rest my case.