In a Nutshell: Divorces are difficult, expensive, and often contentious — at least that’s the common perception. But they don’t have to be. Hello Divorce is a tech-based platform that helps couples divorce without incurring thousands of dollars of debt — and often splitting much more amicably than the traditional divorce process. The company offers monthly membership options that allow clients to choose the level of support they desire, from basic tools and resources to legal advice from an attorney. Hello Divorce is currently operational in California and Colorado with plans to expand to every state in the U.S.
Going through a divorce is rarely easy. Couples are tasked with untangling the life they built together, separating assets, and, if they have children, figuring out custody arrangements.
While divorce may ultimately be good for both parties involved, the process is often very stressful and takes an emotional toll on people and families.
Then, there’s the financial aspect.
Divorcing couples often enlist the help of lawyers to help sort through the difficult process, and legal fees add up fast. All too often, people end up with a notable amount of debt by the time the divorce is finalized. The process can cause credit scores to take a hit as well.
And for those people whose divorces are contentious or particularly stressful, adding debt on top of it all is just like adding salt to a fresh wound.
Thankfully, Hello Divorce offers a different approach.
“Divorce sucks. But we make it way easier and cheaper,” according to the company. “At Hello Divorce, our process puts you at ease by making the legal stuff convenient and easy to understand. You can easily navigate our guided divorce on your own or with the help of a legal assistant.”
HelloDivorce clients can also access a lawyer, but as the company puts it, “Your lawyer is not the center of your divorce — you are.” Hello Divorce currently operates in California and Colorado.
We recently chatted with the Founder and CEO of Hello Divorce, Erin Levine, to learn more about the innovative platform and how it can help divorcing couples avoid large amounts of debt.
Approaching the Legal Side of Divorce From a Fresh Angle
“I came up with the idea for Hello Divorce in 2017 for a couple of big reasons,” said Levine, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist. “One is that we had a lot of tech millennial clients in the Bay Area, and they wanted more. They wanted to understand more of what was happening in their divorce.”
She said these millennials were not satisfied to simply hand off their divorce to a lawyer and tell them to do their best.
“The other thing was that the act of lawyering up was very triggering for them,” Levine explained. “They were concerned that just the mere act of lawyering up in that traditional sense would send their spouse reeling, and (the spouse) would go hire an aggressive lawyer. And it would lead to this really messy, expensive divorce — which is entirely possible.”
So, Levine came up with another way.
“The average cost of a divorce is sky high,” she said. “I wanted to offer those services in a way that made financial sense for people but I also knew we couldn’t do it in the traditional model.”
With Hello Divorce, couples can navigate the divorce process without it having to be a contentious, messy affair.
“The legal system is confusing. You need a guide to get you through it. But ‘lawyering up’ is expensive and ramps up conflict,” according to Hello Divorce. “That’s where we come in. We make divorce way easier — saving you $1,000s. We give you the (online) tools and team you need to conveniently get divorced. You’ve been through enough. Give yourself a break and let us lead you to your next chapter.”
Hello Divorce Users Can Save Thousands and Choose the Level of Assistance They Prefer
“A traditional divorce is where you pay a lawyer a retainer, usually between $5,000 and $10,000, and they bill against it in tenths of an hour,” Levine said. “And the average lawyer is billing somewhere between $250 and $600 an hour.”
It’s easy to see how the expenses can quickly add up. Levine said that, because lawyers work within a legal system in which the way to resolve things is to go to court, it adds time and cost to the process.
“You can imagine the inefficiencies and the expense that it takes to have lawyers prepare documents,” she said. “And once you finally get your day in court, you’re battling it out — it’s a win or lose situation.”
But Levine said she doesn’t believe divorce has to be a zero-sum game.
“I think both parties can come out with their needs met and some of their wants,” she said. “So, we help them opt out of the traditional system.”
Levine said Hello Divorce is akin to the Turbo Tax of the divorce world. Users simply create an account and pay for the service on a monthly basis. Levine said this structure was established because some divorces simply take longer than others to complete, so clients will know that as long as they are Hello Divorce members they can access the help they need.
“All the divorce info you need is here. No more Googling about the process or how to protect your rights,” according to the company. “We’ve done the work for you and give our members FREE access to all the essential resources and worksheets you need.”
Next, clients begin the process with a free 15-minute strategy phone call in which they can share their needs, concerns, and goals. Hello Divorce can then give the clients a plan that promotes a peaceful — and much less expensive — outcome.
Hello Divorce offers different levels of assistance and guidance. But she said they rarely recommend the highest tier for most clients. Instead, they often recommend the DIY Pro package, which gives clients the tools and resources they need to work through most of the process themselves — and avoid going into debt.
“The average divorce through Hello Divorce costs $1,500 per couple versus over $20,000 per person,” Levine said.
A Trusted Network of Attorneys
For those who do need a little extra guidance or legal advice, Hello Divorce maintains a network of attorneys at the ready.
“I spent the last two years doing a lot of legal technology and legal innovation events to try to meet the right people because it takes a certain type of lawyer who’s willing to think outside the billable hour,” Levine said.
The billable hour concept is ingrained in many attorneys’ minds because it has worked well for the profession for many years, but things are changing, Levine explained.
“The seller’s market is no longer — consumers are pushing for change and it’s happening,” she said. “And, also, for many of us, it didn’t necessarily comport with our conscious so we were ready to change as well.”
Levine acknowledged that there are certainly plenty of nuanced situations and cases of all kinds in which expensive attorneys do still need to be involved, but for the most part, run-of-the-mill cases no longer need pricy attorneys.
Attorneys within the Hello Divorce network are available for mediation consulting, document preparation, legal coaching, and litigation coaching — all for affordable, flat fees.
While Hello Divorce is currently available in California and Colorado, Levine plans to expand to other states (more on that below). Nevertheless, the Hello Divorce website offers tons of valuable information and resources no matter what state you’re in.
“A lot of our resources are available and important to people across the nation,” she said. “So even signing up for a free account is going to benefit a lot of people, regardless of whether they’re in a state where we currently offer services.”
Future Plans Include Expanding to All 50 States
Levine said Hello Divorce has already established an attorney network in almost every state.
“We have plans to roll out in every state over the next few years,” she said. “It’s a different system in every single state. My plan was always to go national, but it’s one step at a time.”
Levine said it’s important to her to make sure Hello Divorce is not only available, but it is set up in each state to do a good job.
“It’s not enough for us to just put form-generating software out there,” she said. “I want to make sure that I hire the best professionals to help support people through the system.”
So, if you and your spouse are contemplating divorce but the likelihood of incurring significant debt is preventing you from moving on to a more sustainable and rewarding situation, Hello Divorce may be right for you.