Getting a divorce?
Professional mediator Mark Stein of Milltown is introducing this week a “revolutionary” new service and Web site that, he thinks, will save cooperative divorcing couples thousands of dollars in legal and/or mediation fees and immense amounts of time. The service is called “OurDivorceAgreement.com” and, as you might have guessed, it’s available now on the Internet. That’s Stein’s new logo above right.
But, are there many couples who split up amicably, and are Internet-savvy?
The answer is yes, perhaps as many as one in every 10 or 20 couples, said Stein, 46, a professional mediator who has traveled all over this country and abroad to settle disputes and lecture on conflict resolution. He’s worked with divorcing couples for 15 years.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, Stein’s new business venture can conceivably be used by anyone in the English-speaking world who has access to a personal computer. If “OurDivorceAgreement.com” takes off, like he expects, Stein is ready to offer it in other languages.
For the price of one hour of attorney or mediation fees — $149 — Stein’s online service takes couples through the often mind-boggling gamut of crucial, life-changing decisions.
Divorcing couples work through a series of self-guided forms, answer all kinds of questions, and then, when everything is completed, push a button to produce a complete divorce agreement, a spreadsheet outlining their division of property and the financial documents required. If they are parents, all the issues involving child support, visitation schedules, college funding, and so on is handled step by step.
An audio explanation comes with the program.
All the documents are ready for attorneys and the judge to review and sign off on.
Stein thinks his program may dramatically change the divorce process for millions of couples who wish to avoid the expense and acrimony of the adversarial court setting.
“In addition to reducing the cost of a divorce, the cooperative approach to divorce that the Web site employs helps users avoid months or years of unwanted delays and reduces the level of tension felt by the children,” Stein said.
For a brief online demonstration, which requires only a few minutes, go to: www.ourdivorceagreement.com and select the online demonstration link located at the bottom of the page. (The demonstration requires Microsoft Internet Explorer, version 4.0 or higher. For more information, send an email to [email protected] Agreement.com.
If couples decide to make changes in their agreement, they simply get back online and make the changes they agree to.
Stein started his Mediation First business in 1987 and began working on his comprehensive self-help divorce guide Web site last January.
Stein emphasizes upfront to his clients that he is not a lawyer and doesn’t pretend to be. “I don’t offer any legal advice. I just give them all the options I’m aware of,” based on his years of helping divorcing couples.
His clients are required to acknowledge at the outset that they are not getting legal advice. They must also agree that they will seek independent legal advice before signing any agreement reached on the site.
Stein said his program has three basic goals: To help his clients:
1. Avoid extensive litigation;
2. Do what they can to reach agreement and then get legal counsel;
3. Save time and money.
In many divorce cases, Stein said, one party finds an attorney and the other party just goes along with whatever they decide, often to their dismay later. Using this Web site will encourage more people to get at least some legal advice before the divorce process is final, he said.
When everything is done, when the parties have completed their memorandum of understanding and signed it, they are likely to have a very detailed, 16-page document, in contrast to the two- or three-page document the average divorce lawyer prepares, Stein said.
“OurDivorceAgreemt.com” is available at a reduced rate to service providers. The rate goes down with each use of the program, Stein said.