Friday, July 30, 2021
Divorce is never an easy process to go through and what makes it all the more challenging are the legal costs involved, besides the time it takes.
To change this, an online startup, Hello Divorce, has developed a platform to make this process "more affordable and quicker", TechCrunch reported.
According to the publication, the company, based in Oakland, California on Thursday announced "a $2 million seed round led by CEAS, with additional funds coming from Lightbank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Gaingels and a group of individuals including Clio CEO Jack Newton, WRG’s Lisa Stone and Equity ESQ led by Ed Diab".
The report said that it is estimated that an average of 750,000 divorces take place each year and the average cost can range anywhere between $8,400 to $17,500, depending on the location.
Some have valued the industry to $50 billion annually.
Hello Divorce was founded by Erin Levine, a family law attorney, in 2018 so that couples going through the messy exercise have access to "affordable meaningful legal counsel and resources beyond online forms", the report said.
Levine told TechCrunch that the per hour model used by lawyers is "antiquated" and consumers just want a simpler path to an already agonising part of their lives.
“Right now, lawyers are the keeper of information, and clients keep paying until the divorce is done,” she said. “Divorce is more than forms. It is a challenging time, and most people need or want support. I saw a big hole there to use technology and fixed fees to put couples in the driver’s seat and take down that level of conflict.”
According to the report: "The company plans on rapidly scaling legal filing options across the US, improving its ground-breaking product, and giving consumers more of the content and services they need to feel informed and in control of their divorce process."
Hello Divorce provides online legal services starting at $99 for a do-it-yourself option or for up to an average of $2,000 for legal help along the way. Customers are able to finish the process in "a third of the rime", the report said.
Levine said people spend between two and five years just thinking about divorce and in this time they fear they cannot afford it, or they think of their children who they are afraid of losing. "Of those people, 80% won’t be able to access counsel," the report said.
Although Hello Divorce is already a profitable venture, Levine went after venture capital "to be able to build an infrastructure and tap into the guidance that CEAS and other investors, like Lightbank’s Eric Ong bring to the table", TechCrunch reported.
She said "it is clear what I do know and what I don’t know”.
The company plans to use the funding "to scale legal filing options across the US, on product development and new content and services to educate people coming to Hello Divorce’s website", said TechCrunch.
The online service is currently available in four states: California, Colorado, Texas and Utah.
Since its inception, Hello Divorce has grown 100% year over year, with a success rate of 95%.
"Over the past year, the company received 2,000 inquiries related to how to shelter in place with someone while contemplating divorce and co-parenting during lockdown," read the report.
“The inquiries increased about staying or going, and what divorce will look like,” Levine said. “It will be awhile before we see the total effects of what divorce looks like following the pandemic.”