A new ‘self-service’ divorce app is being launched by two women from the UK and is set to revolutionise how people deal with divorce (including property settlement and parenting matters) – or is it?
Jones Mitchell Lawyer Ailsa Day provides you with some of the advantages and disadvantages of using an app or other ‘non face to face’ mechanisms instead of a lawyer when it comes to settling your financial property settlement and parenting matters.
- The app is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The app will give you access to its database of information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As a general rule, family lawyers are available during office hours, 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday. In saying that though, as a result of emails and the internet being accessed through mobile devices, lawyers are becoming more accessible outside of this time.
- An app is convenient
There is no need to leave your home in order to use your app. The process can get underway from the comfort of your lounge room. This is handy, as it can be daunting to take the first step to resolving financial and/or parenting matters.
- Risky business
The app does not appear to provide any advice per se but simply offers a ‘one size fits all’ database of information and documents that may be needed in a family law matter.
In using the app, you are essentially relying on information from an app (produced by non lawyers, dealing with legal issues) to guide you through a process that is complex and difficult to navigate. The information provided is not jurisdictionally specific which may prove to be a problem as many family law systems are not the same. In the event that something goes wrong or the information you are given is incorrect, there is nobody to speak to or responsible. The result may be that you do not address all matters accurately.
- May be more costly overall
This app does not appear to be developed in order to provide advice about the specifics of your case, or at all. It appears to be generated to complete the ‘behind the scenes tasks’ that would ordinarily be completed by you and your lawyer. It is highly likely, that even with access to this app, you will still need to engage a lawyer and incur the costs associated with doing so.
It might seem like the cost is less initially, (just the cost of the app), but decisions made without the benefit of speaking with a lawyer who has legal experience may mean it is necessary to spend more money to correct simple (but costly) mistakes that may have been made along the way. By way of example, if you have relied on the information provided by the app and not known that you have 12 months from the date of divorce (or 24 months from the date of separation in a de facto matter) to apply to the Court in order to resolve your financial matters, then in order to correct this mistake, you may end up spending more money than you originally would have should you have spoken with a lawyer rather than using the app.
3. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to all cases
A lawyer can provide you with specific advice based on your individual circumstances, and help you deal with unforeseen situations as they arise (and perhaps even have prevented the situation from occurring at all). It is difficult to see how an app could help someone with this given that the app is not intended to ‘give advice’.
4. Complex financial situations require an eye for detail and, often, multiple professionals
In cases where corporate structures and family trusts are involved, there is often the need to involve accountants and other professionals. Those meetings require a competent lawyer with an eye for detail. It is difficult to see how an app ould assist you with those meetings and take into account complex financial situations.