Do-It-Yourself Divorces Now Trending

An astonishing 80-90% of the 100,000 people filing divorce paperwork in Maricopa County every year are Do-It-Yourselfers. That's because it costs, on average, $20,000 to divorce through an attorney. A new cloud-based documents service saves money, and offers the benefits of attorney help.

A new automated system in Maricopa County, designed to create customized divorce and family law documents without the need of an attorney, is now on line in beta mode -- and the company responsible for the launch is offering personal assistance to residents who’d like to try it out. 

In Maricopa County alone more than 100,000 individuals are involved in a family court case each year, which can include divorce, child custody modifications, enforcing orders or establishing or modifying child support. For the 80,000 or more who try to do it on their own, the personal consequences of mistakes can be life-altering for a family.

"There's a ridiculous number of people struggling through divorce without help. This is a group of people who have been ignored by the legal profession because they can't cover the average $20,000 cost for divorce."

Billie Tarascio, Attorney, and founder

“That’s a ridiculous number of people who are struggling through a frightening and complicated situation that’s not a one-off deal,” said Billie Tarascio, the Mesa attorney who designed the Access Legal docs system. “This is a group of people who have been ignored by the legal profession because they can’t cover the average $20,000 cost for divorce.”

The cloud-based system being rolled out locally is akin to a “Legal Zoom” model that allows individuals to use a simple question-and-answer ‘wizard’ to create and customize the complicated legal documents necessary in a divorce. Current online document providers (like Legal Zoom) do not offer family law documents and divorce issues can linger over many years.

The Access Legal document system is user-friendly and can be applied by anyone who may need to file family court paperwork in Maricopa County.  It creates documents that are identical to those used by attorneys.

For the first 100 people during its roll-out in Maricopa County, Access Legal is offering individuals who would like to try the system an in-office appointment, assistance with the software, and document review by a certified legal document preparer. In exchange, the company is seeking feedback in order to test and validate the software before implementing a wider, go-to-market launch outside the county.

The new self-directed system includes county-specific documents for changes in child support, requests for temporary orders, creditor or health insurance notices, and petitions for divorce with or without children. The filer’s information is saved securely online to automatically populate new paperwork as needed.

“It’s comparable to using a tax preparation program to file your taxes without the added cost of a tax preparer or accountant,” said Tarascio. “The legal system is not designed for do-it-yourselfers, yet the vast majority of people are forced to go it alone.

Access Legal’s mission is to empower people to “Be a Legal Ninja” and improve self-representation. The system creates access to justice for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.”

Visitors to the website will also find a family law forum to connect and share with others, a list of referrals to professionals like process servers and private investigators, and articles with helpful information specific to self represented litigants in Maricopa County.