'Click Undo': Edmonton lawyer creates TurboTax-style divorce site
Breaking up isn't so hard to do online, says website creator Tim Mallett
A new made-in-Edmonton website means that for some marriages on the rocks, divorce is just a few clicks away.
Of course, it's never actually that simple but 'clickundo.ca' is an interactive site designed to give Canadians access to relatively cheap and simple separation options outside of the courtroom.
"Often, there is not a lot of time in court to finesse the details of these sorts of arrangements," said Edmonton lawyer Tim Mallett, a co-founder of Undo, the company behind the website.
"When couples are going through this together and working on it together, they're going to get a better outcome," Mallett said.
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Mallett likens the interactive platform to the "TurboTax of divorce."
Instead of tense meetings, stacks of paperwork and steep legal fees, separations can be filed and finalized online with minimal stress and financial strain, he said.
"It's very much like that, actually," said Mallett, with Brock Law in Edmonton. "It's an online platform that allows people to make financial decisions as it pertains to a divorce.
"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."
Getting a clear picture of the overall divorce rate in Canada is difficult since Statistics Canada stopped collecting the data in 2008. According to some estimates, there are more than 70,000 divorces annually.
According to a Statistics Canada report in 2010, about 38 per cent of all marriages taking place in 2004 will have ended in divorce by 2035.
In Alberta, there are various legal means for getting a divorce. An uncontested divorce, also referred to as a desk order divorce, is one where the spouses agree on all the issues and the required actions can be resolved through standardized paperwork in a matter of months.
A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses disagree on matters such as child custody, property or spousal support. These can take more than a year to resolve through case management.
Mallett is not concerned that the online service will undercut conventional business at his firm. There is an "access-to-justice crisis" in the backlogged family courts system.
"The majority of people who wind up in family court are actually self-represented," he said.
"People just don't have the time or the money to engage a lawyer to help them with this process."
Users of the website are asked to respond to a series of questions and surveys about their income, housing and child custody arrangements. Based on the information provided, the site calculates equalization payments and spousal support estimates and generates official divorce documents.
The service is best suited for amicable separations, Mallett said.
"If there is a certainty that there is going to be a fight about something, our service won't be useful," Mallett said. "They will still have to go through the traditional routes that are available."
Site fees range from $245 for the do-it-yourself option to $895 for a "full service" package.
More than 300 people have signed up for the website since it launched in January. While Mallett assumed the web tool would be used only by younger adults, they've had plenty of baby boomers and retirees using the site.
"We don't have any testimonials at this point," Mallett said. "But as soon we do, we'll let you know."