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Can a computer program really be used for divorce?

Advancements in computer technology have served to make many tasks that were once viewed as being universally onerous relatively easy.

A textbook example of this is the tax preparation software you now buy online or at your local big box store. Gone are the days of sorting through complex paperwork and making even more complex calculations, replaced by a series of relatively simple questions answered via keystrokes and mouse clicks.

As far as we've advanced in this area, has computer technology advanced to the point where it can effectively handle otherwise complex legal matters like dissolution of marriage?

According to at least one company, the answer is yes.

What software has this company developed?

Silicon Valley-based Modria originally developed software designed to help such Internet giants as PayPal and eBay address customer complaints without having to rely on actual customer service representation.

As time went on, however, it became apparent that the software could also be repurposed to address some legal issues, including traffic disputes, tax assessments and even family law matters like divorce.

How could a computer program possibly handle a divorce?

Believe it or not, the computer program has been used by hundreds of  divorcing couples in the Netherlands since February.

The software is designed in such a way that couples -- who are presumably on good speaking terms -- sit down and answer a multitude of questions designed to uncover their respective views on a variety of divorce-related issues.

From there, the program highlights areas in which the couple agreed, suggests values for things like spousal support and even provides a platform through which to navigate problem areas.

If a resolution is reached, the couple prints it out and brings it to an attorney, who will review it for fairness and, if no problems are present, file it with the court.

Are such computer programs currently being used here in the U.S.?

Yes. Ohio officials are using Modria for tax assessment cases, while an arbitration association in New York is using it to help resolve medical claims in specific types of car crash cases. Furthermore, a similar program is being used by four court districts in Michigan to solve traffic disputes.

Why are these computer programs being embraced in even a limited capacity?

Official recognize that these programs are cheap to run, foster greater transparency and can help relieve some of the pressure on already crowded court dockets.

Will it ever be rolled out in connection with divorce here in the U.S.?

Experts have yet to provide any sort of answer to this question. However, it seems like it's use would probably have to be limited to largely uncontested divorces. This is not to mention that a review system would need to be established to ensure that the rights and best interests of all parties were protected.

What are your thoughts on this software? Do you think it could ever work in relation to divorce here in the U.S.?

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