Pip Wilson, co-founder of amicable, explains the benefits of digitising divorce.
Even though one-third of UK marriages end in divorce, the separation process is complicated by a number of legal and social hurdles. In today’s legal system, one spouse must make an accusation about the other’s conduct, such as adultery or “unreasonable behaviour”. The alternative requires that the couple live apart for two years, to prove they have separated, in all but the legal sense of the word. This means that even when ex-partners have the best intentions, it’s near enough impossible to avoid acrimony when divorcing. Whilst as administrators of the system we know how to file around this, it still leaves those divorcing with a bitter taste in their mouths at the start of an already trying emotional process.
Since 2015, amicable’s mission has been to help couples aiming to ‘untie the knot’ to do so as smoothly as possible, minimising hostility. The digital service works with couples, rather than individuals, to reach cooperative and productive agreements, taking the formal solicitor approach out and making the process as simple as possible for the couple. To make divorce less daunting, amicable removes the alienating legal jargon recurrent in solicitor-led divorce. Putting people at the centre of the divorce process has enabled amicable to develop effective and emotion-conscious technology while curating a process that prioritises ease for prospective couples.
By digitalising divorce, amicable has also been able to significantly reduce financial and time costs to the consumer. This is a much-needed move, as the traditional legal process of divorce averages £8,000 per person for divorce and financial settlement and can reach £40,000 per person if the couple goes to court. By minimising the cost of administrative tasks through automation, a fixed fee divorce model is possible. Making divorce cost-effective allows access to justice for all separating couples; a significant improvement for the industry, as extreme costs can act as a barrier to actioning divorce for many.
The technology at the heart of digital divorce can serve as a hugely helpful interface when tackling painful life moments. The physical separation it provides, as sessions take place over video links rather than in person, eases the emotional strain and in turn reduces the likelihood of argumentative processes. This also has significant knock-on effects regarding the societal stigma associated with divorce; traditional divorce is frequently associated with sensationalist, acrimonious and spectacle-like disagreements. With technology as the calming middleman, supported by amicable’s professional mediators, divorce can be rebranded. Pacifying, and in turn destigmatising divorce, equally improves its accessibility for couples by reducing fear of social judgement.
Convenient and obtainable tech is also essential to reducing the impacts of divorce on wider family members such as co-parenting apps which help parents successfully manage the life change for the whole family. By leaning on mobile digital tools, co-parents can access advice and organisational functionalities on the go. With expertly crafted, bespoke tips available at any time, children of divorce are in the best possible hands to navigate this complex emotional journey. By minimising the destabilising impacts of divorce and reducing the exposure to a negative relationship breakdown, the long-term social justice benefits of democratising divorce cannot be understated.
Although amicable challenges the traditional lawyer against lawyer approach to divorce, amicable has attracted the attention of Sir Ernest Ryder who recently joined as an advisor, bringing with him extensive legal expertise and track record of excellence. With over 40 years of experience on how to ensure the best possible outcomes in divorce, Sir Ernest will be crucial in supporting amicable’s response to the demand created by the No Fault Divorce bill coming into force in April 2022. Bridging traditional with disruptive legal knowledge will ensure divorce is serving all citizens.
Technology is hailed as a great democratising tool across a number of sectors, and divorce is no exception. By removing societal and financial barriers, as well as improving accessibility, collaborative digital divorces are becoming mainstream. This trend will undoubtedly become more pronounced with the imminent implementation of No Fault Divorce. The positive impact of amicable, accessible divorce has transformative potential in terms of social justice and equality – ideals that lie at the very core of purpose-led technology.