Less stressful divorce for the digital age

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

John Lachapelle stands in front of window overlooking campus.

By Brandon Gillet

As the month of love is drawing to a close, perhaps your marriage is, too. And now, of course, there’s an app for that.

Local legal data analytics company Miralaw has launched Thistoo, an application designed to streamline divorce in Ontario so separating couples can focus on the important emotional side of things. The idea behind Thistoo – “your personal divorce assistant” -- is to help people avoid the extra stress and high cost of taking their case to court.

Telfer MBA student John Lachapelle recently started an eight-month internship with the company. His role includes marketing the application to the public, and ensuring it is user-friendly. He writes blog posts that raise awareness of the app and help to simplify the technical aspects. He has also written the script for a promotional video.

“Obviously the world of law is very confusing,” he says, “but we can cut through that with data.”

The app draws on data from 58,000 publicly available court cases to help separating couples understand how their divorce is likely to resolve, and to navigate the legal labyrinth. Clients enter factors such as length of marriage; number and age of any children; and how any assets changed over the course of the relationship. The app then calculates the possible child support and alimony payments, and can help draft a separation agreement.

Even when couples are able to work things out amicably, divorce is never easy. Having to deal with complex legal matters can make an already highly charged situation even more stressful.

“That’s why our message is, ‘Let us handle the complicated legal stuff – you focus on what matters’,” Lachapelle says.

“We tell our customers that we can get it done within a year, and a lot of that is based on the set timelines in the court filing system,” he says. “Without this app, a typical divorce takes twice as long as that – or more. We have seen a one-year marriage end in a four-year divorce process.”

The company plans to adapt the Ontario app for other provinces and even a few American states within a year. And Lachapelle, who is on track to receive his MBA after he completes this internship, hopes his happy relationship with Miralaw continues after graduation.

Divorce by the numbers

Average cost (based on 2011 Canadian legal fees):

Contested: $12,875

Uncontested: $1,353

Thistoo: $199                                                                                          

Average time:

Contested: 27 months

Uncontested: 21 months

Thistoo: 12 months

Source: John Lachapelle

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