Divorce Anguish: There Should Be An App For That.
Author: Casey Rose Shevin, Co-Founder at divorceify
Fifteen years ago the internet was just finding its way into the family home, but today we carry constant connectivity and convenience in the palm of our hand. Life has never been more efficient and consumers have adapted to expect the smoothest experience technology can offer. In response to the proliferation of smartphones, apps have been developed to streamline almost every task in our daily lives. Even more complex processes, like filing your taxes, have been addressed by tech. Have a problem? There’s probably an app for that.
And yet, at any time an estimated thirty million American adults face an incredibly stressful and expensive problem that technology has not yet addressed: they are getting divorced. Most people experience the divorce process as an all consuming one; it demands complex coordination, new ways of thinking, an outpouring of financial resources and high stakes decision making - all during an incredibly emotional time. Why shouldn’t there be an app for that?
DIVORCE HAS A STEEP LEARNING CURVE
Divorce is the first major interaction many people have with the legal system and the learning curve is steep. It can feel like everyone is speaking another language as the lawyers, law clerks, and judges throw around legal terminology without pausing to explain (in fact, lawyers jokingly refer to this as speaking “legalese”). Attorneys are so comfortable in the courtroom they forget how stressful the experience can be for their clients and don’t typically take time to explain the basics such as who will be in the room, where the divorcing couple will be seated, what they should wear, or when they might be asked to speak. These basic questions keep divorce litigants up at night.
Clients are often embarrassed to ask what they think is too basic of a question, or they might not want to pay their attorney’s billable rate in order to get the answer. Moments of confusion and small points of concern mount until the entire divorce process becomes overwhelming, crippling sensible decision making. Clients should feel comfortable asking their most basic questions without being presented with a massive legal bill as a result. There should be an app for that.
DIVORCE IS EXPENSIVE
How often have you heard someone complain that they put their divorce attorney’s kid through college? It’s a common complaint because too often it’s close to the truth. Divorce lawyers across the country have billable rates that range anywhere from $200 to $900 per hour, and at those rates it doesn’t take long before thousands of dollars have been spent. Unfortunately, lawyers don’t always take the time to explain their billing practices or to notify a client when fees start to mount at a rapid rate. Clients are commonly afraid to speak with their attorney about their bill for fear that they will damage their relationship and get worse representation as a result, leaving them confused and irritated by the size of the invoice they receive. However, there is a productive way to have those uncomfortable conversations and there is a strategy that can be employed to get the most out of an attorney’s billable time. By staying in the loop as the fees are generated, preparing agendas for meetings in advance, and streamlining communication clients can take the shock out of their attorney’s monthly bill. There should be an app for that.
DIVORCE IS TIME CONSUMING
Divorce comes with an extensive to-do list. Not only are divorce clients wading through a tidal wave of emotions they suddenly have to create a detailed personal budget, set a longterm parenting schedule, collect a mountain of financial documents, and consider complicated tax implications. Employers don’t give a divorce vacation, children can demand more attention as they process the emotions of divorce, and the financial pressure on the household mounts; the to-do list has to fit into an already crowded schedule that is suddenly complicated by divorce.
One common headache is the process of financial disclosure and discovery (collecting and sharing financial information relevant to marital assets and debts). Litigants complain that it can take hours to track down all of the documents they are required to produce (years of bank statements, tax returns, loan documentation, etc.). Eventually all this paperwork has to be organized and stored somewhere - typically, in the attorney’s office where the clients cannot access it. Lawyers should have the tools to generate a discovery to-do list for their clients and then guide them through the process in an organized and manageable way. Documents should be stored electronically and remain accessible to clients. In the age of smartphones and cloud storage there is simply no excuse for how arduous the financial discovery process is for clients. There should be an app for that.
HELP IS ON THE WAY!
The divorceify team is incredibly excited to be developing an app that will minimize the financial waste and emotional stress inherent to the divorce process. Among other features, divorceify will streamline relationships between clients and attorneys by enhancing the utilization of technology and providing effective emotional support.
We couldn’t be more excited to say that we understand the anguish of divorce … and we are developing an app for that.
About the Author: Casey is an experienced family law mediator and attorney with a compassionate approach to the law. Casey founded her boutique law practice, Family Centered Law & Mediation PC, to offer her clients an amicable and efficient divorce process with the goal of maintaining a sense of family. She was educated at Georgetown University Law Center and is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Prior to establishing her own practice, Casey honed her skills at top firms in Philadelphia and Manhattan. She is passionate about improving the divorce process.