Seattle attorney Randy Finney has established completecase.com, a dissolve-it-yourself divorce site. It’s already available for would-be divorcees in Washington, California, Florida, and New York — with other states pending. Finney estimates that his website has aided one thousand couples to uncouple.
The site boasts, “Forms and calculations automatically completed for an uncontested divorce.” Users need to agree on issues like alimony, division of property, and custody of the children and pets.
How does this divorce online work? It costs 249 dollars and about three hours to fill out and print online forms. Then — depending on the state — applicants deliver the completed forms by mail, fax, or in person to a judge or clerk, pay some official fees, and go their separate ways.
CNN’s “Talkback Live” discussed the issue a few weeks ago. Participants included completecase.com’s Finney and Dennis Rainey, executive director of Family Life, a division of Campus Crusade. Rainey said Finney’s site “takes the Internet to a whole new low level. . . . [W]e need to . . . call couples to keep their marriage promise . . . , not disintegrate more marriages and families.”
By contrast, Rainey told the audience about his website, familylife.com. Since 1999 Rainey’s ministry has partnered with thirty other organizations, hosting 175,000 spouses at “I Still Do” seminars that strengthen marriages and renew sometimes-faded vows. He read a child’s letter of thanks: “Since . . . the conference, my dad and mom haven’t fought once. . . . [They are] spending more time with us . . . ”
Another guest, marriage counselor Pat Love, said the site, completecase.com, “gives the illusion that [divorce] is a painless process” — ignoring painful “implications . . . for . . . children, families, friends, etc.” She added that electronic instancy moves people away from “one of the most important healing agents, . . . time. . . . [I]f you just wait, the low times will . . . have an upswing, and your marriage will get better, even without intervention, oftentimes.”
And remember: Divorce affects children and grandchildren. Ms. Love stated, “If you want to be happy and successful, . . . research says . . . get married, stay married, and work on your marriage.” Don’t treat it as something to “delete” with a few mouse clicks.
Finney defended his site, saying, “We’re not encouraging people to get a divorce; we’re encouraging people, if they’re going to get a divorce, to get it in an amicable and relatively inexpensive way. . . . [F]or people who have uncontested cases . . . don’t break the piggybank, don’t go into bankruptcy” — sure.
Rainey countered, “It’s like we’re talking about [breaking up] some kind of a business deal . . . We’re talking about breaking up the social infrastructure of our nation. . . . When a divorce occurs, . . . a woman is more likely to live in poverty, a child more likely to be sexually abused — in fact, forty times more likely. . . . What needs to happen is not . . . easy divorce, where it’s just a business decision, to terminate with the click of a mouse, but to encourage people to stay together.”
Pat Love agreed: “If you’re going to click, click toward your marriage, not away from it!” — correct.
For further information:
“Should Divorce Be Just a Click Away?” CNN “Talkback Live,” 6 March 2002.
“Web site offers point-and-click splits,” USA Today, 6 March 2002.
Visit the Family Life website for more information.
Mike McManus, Marriage Savers (Zondervan Publishing, 1995).