Michelle Crosby is the founder and CEO of Wevorce, a company that brings a high-tech and high-touch approach to divorce, helping to keep families out of court, making the divorce process more affordable, faster, and amicable for families.
Nicholas Gaffney (NG): How did you come to specialize in divorce law and start Wevorce?
Michelle Crosby (MC): When I was nine years old I found myself in the midst of my parents’ ugly divorce battle. I was put on the stand and asked, “If you were stranded on a desert island, which parent would you want to live with?” That defining moment motivated me to become an attorney and change the impact divorce has on families.
After practicing family law for a while, I came to understand just how broken the system is—it doesn’t work for the families or for the divorce professionals. I found myself in situations where my zealous representation of my client seemed to escalate the conflict rather than resolve it. This resulted not only in more time and more legal fees for my client, but it also came at the expense of the children’s well-being and the family’s emotional and financial stability. I realized that I needed to take a step back and consider a different approach in order to truly change divorce for good.
So, I left my traditional legal career and entered the startup world. I teamed up with digital technology leaders, experienced attorneys, financial professionals, and counselors who helped me bring my vision to life by creating the premier online divorce solution that we offer today, known as Wevorce.
NG: How has divorce law changed over the years and what do you see it evolving into?
MC: Probably one of the biggest changes was the advent of the no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s. However, it has taken several decades for that change to be incorporated across the nation. It wasn’t until October 2010 that the last state, New York, started to allow no-fault divorces.
In the past decade, I’ve seen more states accommodating pro se divorces—offering self-help forums, adopting easy-to-use forms rather than lengthy pleadings, and even establishing electronic filing processes. But unfortunately, a lot of states still make it difficult for couples to determine their own agreements and path to divorce, making it a lengthy and costly process.
The tech world has a few options for getting a DIY divorce, but few online services offer more than the basic forms. From the very first iteration of our online software, we’ve been both high-tech and high-touch. What does this mean? We have real people trained as mediators behind the tech, offering real-time, one-on-one support to our families every step of the way.
NG: How is Wevorce different from other online divorce services?
MC: No one understands divorce like we do. We truly care about our families and what they are going through. Wevorce isn’t just a software company; it’s our mission to Change Divorce for Good.
NG: Are online divorce services appropriate for everyone?
MC: No, I think in some instances it’s appropriate—even necessary—for individuals to get an attorney to represent them, but unfortunately, many cannot afford to. For example, if the couple is unwilling or unable to reach mutual agreements on difficult issues or one spouse wishes to file as a fault divorce, and especially if any sort of abuse is taking place and protection is needed, then attorney representation is needed.
Our own process is a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences. We ask our families to work together to determine their agreements. While we are there to help, we do not offer legal advice or represent a family in any way. We ask for full disclosure and communication between the spouses as they work through the software and our questionnaire-based process.
NG: Do you see DIY divorce services changing the playing field for the divorce industry?
MC: Absolutely. I’ve seen a lot of activity in that arena since I started Wevorce, but today’s consumer needs to be aware that not all services are created equal. 5Our own platform has evolved and changed continuously over the past five years to ensure our online service remains relevant in an ever-evolving high-tech world.
Wevorce’s philosophy is that families come first. To stay true to our values and maintain a best-in-class service while keeping pace with a competitive industry is definitely a challenge. But our commitment is 100% and we pledge to communicate, provoke peace, and work with honor.
NG: What is the one thing about divorce law you would change if you could?
MC: I would like to see uniform, national standards for divorce. Currently, the court process for getting divorced differs not just state by state, but often county by county. At Wevorce, we’ve had to learn the ins-and-outs of this process for all 3,242 counties in this country. But I’m not advocating for national standards just to make my employees’ jobs easier. It’s important to me because the current system is unfair to families. A couple’s ability to understand and navigate the divorce process shouldn’t depend on which county they happen to live in. Also, today many couples move to different states frequently or might have a long-distance marriage. Sometimes these couples don’t meet the jurisdictional requirements to file for divorce in any state! We need a system that works for the way people live in the 21st century.
About the Author
Nicholas Gaffney is the founder of Zumado Public Relations in San Francisco, CA and is a member of the Law Practice Today Editorial Board. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @nickgaffney.