From the Courtroom to the Computer: Meet Wevorce, The Program That's Changing the Way America Gets Divorced
Michelle Crosby wants to revolutionize divorce
When Michelle Crosby was 9 years old, she was asked by one of her parent’s divorce lawyers: “If you were stranded on a desert island, which of your parents would you choose to live with?”
Crosby’s mother and father were in the midst of a nasty, years-long split, and she had been called to testify. It was that moment that served as catalyst for her professional future, first, as a lawyer specializing in family law, a profession that left her frustrated with the divorce process.
“I really believed it didn’t have to be that way,” Crosby says. “We can help families.”
Now, as the CEO and founder of Wevorce, a software program launched nationally 2013 that’s trying to change the way people end their marriages, she’s hoping to change the way people approach – and obtain – divorces.
Wevorce provides an alternative to the traditional American divorce process, aimed at keeping things less expensive, less time-consuming and perhaps most importantly, more civil for the pair. Through a series of questions, plan-setting and meetings with professionals, Crosby hopes Wevorce will keep people out of the courtroom – and change the way they end marriages.
And so far, it’s working. The average Wevorce costs $5500, while the average divorce cost in the United States is $27,000. On average, Wevorces take 88 days. Wevorce also has a 98 percent settlement rate – and they’re on track to do 3500 divorces in 2016.
“My real drive is to turn every divorce amicable,” Crosby said. “When I started, everyone said that’s crazy, but we’re actually seeing it happen.”
Crosby credits the platform’s success to their approach to divorce. Instead of pitting the spouses against each other – with the help of a lawyer – Wevorce is all about encouraging them to work together to outline financial plans, parenting plans and an overall foundation for a couple’s divorce process.
“We don’t treat it like a problem and a fight,” Crosby says. “It’s decision making.”
There are two ways to have a Wevorce. One is a more DIY method, where two spouses seeking a divorce log on to the program after an initial consult. They go through the steps, which includes foundation building, financial planning and parenting planning, before obtaining their paperwork and preparing to officially file. Throughout the program, there’s a link to connect with a professional to help a couple through a particularly difficult decision or conversation.
And as seamless as this option sounds, Crosby says that it has worked for couples with varying familial and financial backgrounds.
But for those who are nervous to nearly completely abandon professional help throughout the divorce process, Wevorce also has a second option, which involves more help and guidance from professionals. In this scenario, Wevorce will set up their clients with one lawyer for the two of them, and instead of going through the parenting and financial planning on their own, they will work with specialists through a series of meetings (typically about seven to eight, associate manager Casey Hutton says) to figure things out.
Every Wevorce is assigned a “divorce archetype”, which helps the company to predict how the process will go. These 18 labels include anything from spender to saver, betrayer to betrayed, initiator to reactor and more. These archetypes, Crosby says, make it easier for those over at Wevorce to customize the process to the couple.
Throughout it all, the focus is on minimizing stress and keeping the couple from going at each other’s throats. During parenting planning, spouses are able view pictures of their children onscreen to remind them of what’s important, and motivational quotes are also provided to keep the couple grounded and focused on the future.
At the end of the process, each couple reads the poem, “Begin Again” by Fela Dawson Scott, to have a moment to emotionally process the situation and the end of their marriage.
“It helps capture the weight of that moment,” Crosby says.
And really, that’s what Wevorce is all about: To help couples go through the emotional ordeal of divorce in a productive way. Crosby hopes turn eventually turn every divorce in America amicable.
As she says: “There’s no better way to go through this tough time than with respect and honor.”