Naperville divorce lawyerWill robots one day replace divorce attorneys? It is not likely, as many couples have complicated divorces that require the help of knowledgeable divorce lawyers, but new tools to help settle disputes and even help couples with divorce are popping up all over Europe and Canada. How do these tools work? Can couples really navigate divorce using only an online tool? Will these types of programs rise in popularity in America too? Here, we explore the rising trend of online dispute resolution technology.

Settling Disputes

The online auction site eBay has long been an example of a successful online conflict resolution system. The system allows eBay buyers and sellers to settle any disputes they have through an automated system, which leads users through a series of questions and explanations that guide the users towards a settlement. Annually, 60 million disputes are handled each year by eBay’s automated system, and while real human help is available for cases that are more difficult to resolve, a majority of eBay’s annual disputes are handled without human adjudicators.

Countries like Canada and the Netherlands have seen a recent rise in online conflict resolution programs that a similar to eBay’s conflict resolution tool. In the Netherlands, these tools offer a variety of services, from handling landlord-tenant problems to helping couples divorce without a courtroom or divorce attorneys. British Columbia will soon implement a Civil Resolution Tribunal online to help settle condominium disputes, but leaders say the technology will eventually be used to handle almost every small-claims case. England has seen a similar rise in this type of technology as well. Advocates of these types of programs say that they can help provide legal access to many that would otherwise be unable to afford it, and that this new technology will help free up attorneys from low level cases and allow them to handle more complex cases. How do these programs work?

Divorce Online

Take Rechtwijzer, a program provided by the Dutch government, for example. Translated to Roadmap to Justice, the tool has been helping couples separate since 2007, and is soon expanding to employment conflicts and landlord-tenant solutions. When a couple wants to divorce, they pay around $100 to have access to the program, which first collects information on the couple. Each spouse is asked for their income, education levels, age, and other relevant information such as if they have children or not. Once the program gets to know each individual, it leads each user through a system of finding solutions for disagreements. There is even a tool to help plan for child support costs and a software built for drafting a formal agreement. If needed, couples can request the help of a mediator, but at a steep price of over three times the initial cost to use the software. Fortunately, one of the programs developers says that help is only needed in about 5 percent of all cases, and that each year, around 700 divorces are handled through the program. Of course, using the tool is completely voluntary, and many couples still choose traditional divorce methods, but advocates say that the tool does work, especially for those with more simple divorces.

Divorce Technology in America?

While many countries seem to be full steam ahead with developing this type of technology, the trend has not quite caught on in America. Some states do have tools available online to help with small things like property-tax appeals and insurance claims, and entrepreneurs and developers are looking to expand to online dispute resolution. Many have tried but were run out of business due to a lack of demand for the tools. Specialists here in America say that many of the conflict resolution programs they have seen stateside have had slow moving interfaces which could have possibly detracted from their appeal. Additionally, legal specialists say that many divorce attorneys in America “feel uncomfortable about the process.”

We Are Here to Help

Would you like a real, knowledgeable attorney to assist you with your divorce? Call 630-352-2240 to set up a free consultation with a qualified Naperville divorce attorney today.