Getting a divorce is often emotionally and financially draining. Statistics Canada hasn’t compiled an overall divorce rate since 2008, but some estimate the country has more than 70,000 divorces each year. A 2010 Statistics Canada report revealed about 38 percent of all marriages that occurred in 2004 will end in divorce by 2035.
To make divorce more seamless, Tim Mallett, an attorney with Brock Law in Edmonton, co-founded the website Undo. The website offers an alternative to the costly and sometimes complex proceedings that take place in the courtroom. The website boasts “Divorce Made Simpler” on its main page. Couples merely have to complete some online forms, and the website operators will take care of the rest.
“Often, there is not a lot of time in court to finesse the details of these sorts of arrangements,” Mallett told CBC. “When couples are going through this together and working on it together, they’re going to get a better outcome.”
Couples can avoid stressful meetings, piles of paperwork and costly legal fees by filing and finalizing separations online. Mallett compared his divorce website to the “TurboTax of divorce.”
“It’s very much like that, actually. It’s an online platform that allows people to make financial decisions as it pertains to a divorce,” Mallett explained. “We will take those papers down to the courthouse and get them filed. We hope it’s going to remove a lot of the pain points of going through a family restructuring.”
The website guides couples through simple questions about their divorce and the financial decisions they have to make. The website then generates a divorce application, which in conventional divorces is usually filled out by hand.
A lawyer reviews the application to make sure it complies with the laws of the province and helps fix any issues. Next, a Commissioner for Oaths meets with the couple at whatever location they desire and signs the application before filing it at a courthouse. The entire process can be completed at home.
This process appears very streamlined, particularly for people dealing with a contested divorce in which there are disagreements over things such as child custody, property or spousal support. These types of divorces can take more than a year to finalize in provinces such as Alberta.
According to Mallett, family courts are backlogged, and many people represent themselves because they don’t have the time or money to secure a lawyer to represent them.
Undo users simply answer a series of questions about income, housing, and custody arrangements. The website calculates payments and generates official divorce documents.
Mallett acknowledges that the website is best for those involved in amicable divorces.
“If there is a certainty that there is going to be a fight about something, our service won’t be useful,” Mallett explained. “They will still have to go through the traditional routes that are available.”
Fees range from $245 to $895, depending on how much Undo helps with the process. The website launched in January, and over 300 people—a mix of young adults, baby boomers, and retirees—have taken advantage of it.