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Jimmy Moore
June 19, 2003

In yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, have you heard what you can do over the Internet NOW? Yep, that’s right. You guessed it. If you are simply fed up with your spouse and you want to end your marriage, then the World Wide Wuh-oh can make everything better for you by making it easy to file for divorce!

This is not a joke. In fact, these websites have been advertised and featured in USA Today, CNN, NBC and other major media outlets. It seems our “gotta-have-it-now” society has gotten us to the point that even marriages that aren’t going as well as expected should have a quick fix for getting the ax.

The most popular online divorce services are LegalZoom and CompleteCase.  Both of these companies have actually been in existence since 2001 and have “helped” over 50,000 customers get a divorce for less than $300.

Some people are a little timid about using the Internet to get a divorce, but are also certainly turned off by the outlandish fees charged by divorce attorneys.

Another so-called “advantage” of getting a divorce over the Internet is that it avoids the emotional stress that usually accompanies a traditional divorce.

But as more and more states allow for divorces to happen online, some people believe that this would make divorce as easy as buying something off of eBay. They further contend that the divorce rate, which is already at 50% would quickly balloon out of control.

Some conservative groups are weighing in on the issue of online divorce.

"People are going to enter into marriage much more casually with something like this available," responds Jan LaRue. She is the lead attorney for Concerned Women for America. "The idea of (divorce) becoming faster and cheaper - to me, that doesn't help the idea of marriage."

While the possibility of completely filing for divorce over the Internet is still over a year in the making, the web has become a vital tool for consumers to research the law and complete legal paperwork online. In our society where faster is better, some people see the online divorce business as a goldmine that’s been waiting to happen. And it could also be viewed as the end of civility as we know it, too!

One woman who got a divorce with one of these online services said that “the Internet responds to you right away, and that's not the way I pictured divorce.” See what I mean? People can’t wait to have what they want and NOW, by golly!

And it’s only going to get worse. LegalZoom saw a robust 43% increase in divorce sales last month (who said the economy is slow?! :-~ Yikes, does the divorce business have to be booming like THIS?!). As a result, tons of new companies offering a divorce from the comfort of your home are popping up all over the Internet. A Google search for "divorce online" found an eye-popping 838,000 results!!! Business entrepreneurs are just salivating at the opportunity to give people a divorce for a fee.

State and local judicial systems recognize this trend and are attempting to make the divorce process less agonizing by offering online programs that assist people with the forms similar to filling out taxes.

"Our real goal is to make sure that people do a good job of self-diagnosing their problem," remarks Ayn Crawley, the director of the Maryland Legal Assistance Network in Baltimore, Maryland.

Crawley says that most people who try to file for divorce online give up many of their rights for the sake of convenience.

"People may trade off pension rights for custody, and you should know what you're giving up," she says.

In San Mateo County (CA), an interactive website is set up for people to fill out important legal paperwork regarding issues dealing with the family. Since June 2002, nearly 10,000 people have used this website. By June 2004, the county expects to enable people to file their paperwork with the court via the web.

Again, for those of us who support marriage, this is NOT good news. Getting a divorce should not be as easy as ordering a pizza or buying a CD on eBay! A divorce should be deliberative and methodical, not quick and easy!

The greatest example for people to look at if they are even contemplating getting a divorce is (BELIEVE IT OR NOT!) Former President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton (who said Republicans can’t find something good to say about them?!). If a couple ever had a reason to call it quits, it was this one. But no, they stood by each other despite marital infidelity and all of the problems they brought on themselves. They are a prime example for people to work at their marriage. If the Clintons can do it, then ANYBODY can do it!

The divorce rate has risen steadily since no-fault divorces were first introduced in the 1970s. Since then, there has been a total lack of respect for divorce in the United States. Even thinking about divorce takes the focus off of the sanctity of a covenant marriage and places it firmly on a non-binding ceremonial union of two people.

"The message from online filing...is that marriage really is just a piece of paper," remarks Diane Sollee, the founder of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education.   

Sollee is not concerned about the money that will be saved by people wanting a divorce as much as she is worried about the number of divorces that people will get just because they can.

"If there's an online divorce (service available), and you're in the mood, you can go ahead and file," she fears.

While a divorce may not be as simple as a click and send right now, it is not too far-fetched to see something like this being used to lighten the burden of divorce court in the very near future.

Divorce is a very serious matter. But the pain of it is not lessened by this new process. Just ask Al Hernandez from California who paid $500 to get a divorce in 2001.

"It really doesn't take away all the emotional issues. But it does make the process easier," he said.

Hernandez used an online divorce service based in California called DivorceWizards. They helped him prepare his legal documents and file his paperwork for him. Although he wanted to reconcile with his wife during the process of getting his divorce, he eventually went through with it. Hernandez says he saved several thousands of dollars and kept the lawyers out of their business.

"I really think (adding lawyers) creates more animosity between the parties," he said. "It ends up making you bicker over little things."

Interestingly, while there are many websites available for people wanting to get a divorce, there are also a great deal of websites devoted to helping people STOP their divorce. A Google search of "stop divorce" found 561,000 results!!!

The moral of this story is that people should stop trying to speed up their lives by making everything quick and easy. You should try to take things just a little bit slower and make good choices about your future. In the end, you’ll be glad that you thought about the consequences of your actions BEFORE making a hasty decision you might regret.

My wife and I took divorce out of the equation before we got married. My parents had multiple divorces while I was growing up and I told my wife that divorce would NEVER be an option if she married me. My loving bride-to-be at the time told me that she felt the exact same way. In fact, we have cut the word “divorce” out of every dictionary we own. It doesn’t exist to us because it’s never an option...even if it’s available on the Internet!

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