What Would DIY Online Divorce Look Like in India?
It’s the 21st century and Elon Musk is firing cars into space, and driverless cars are about to swamp the roads. But divorce, and divorced women, are still given a hard time, by society and by the law. A simple Google search will lead you to multiple cases in India, where even the Supreme Court has made bewildering statements about women having to look after their husband’s family over their own (and a lot more).
If you’re a “TL:DR” kind of person, here’s the recap: While the last couple of decades have seen a lot of change – most recently in last year’s Supreme Court ruling against triple talaq — the legalities of divorce are a pain. It takes forever. It often ends with the woman taking the blame and settling just to get it over. Or, for women without financial independence, it might end with regret and a return to a dysfunctional marriage. Basically, divorce in India is a mess in every which way – instead of being a liberating moment in which the government enables people to choose to live the way they want.
Enter the DIY divorce.
Of course, it comes from the land of build-your-own-home-why-not-we’re-Americans. Americans love their do-it-yourself, from soap to furniture to houses — and now, divorce.
Laura Wasser, celeb attorney who’s handled the divorces of Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Jennifer Garner and more, has started a website, itsovereasy.com, where couples can get divorced online, cheaper and quicker than wading through the courts.
Wasser specifies that this site is for people who think they can agree on the terms of their marital split, on custody, on division of property – in effect, an amicable separation, in as much as the term is not an oxymoron.
“If your spouse comes home every day and beats you, this isn’t for you,” she says sagely. Fair enough.
What would a getdivorcednow.in look like? I start by wondering if names like dumphisass.in or tellyourmotherinlawtosuckit.in would be more successful. Then, my editor calls three times and tells me to get a move on, so I do.
In the United States, where legal services are very expensive, a site like this seems to offer a better solution. In India, legal fees are proportionally less steep, but for those whom costs are still prohibitive, a website might bring fees down further and give more women access to choice.
DIY divorce might even work across religions. The Centre has promised to enact a new divorce system for Muslims, after the Supreme Court struck down triple talaq. This could be a good compromise – quicker than the courts, but not instantaneous (and available to both men and women).
And India has seemed to adapt to the online world far better than could have been imagined. Multiple governmental processes, like the Aadhar system and Taxation, are all online (we can argue about security and feasibility till we’re blue in the face – but you still get an email alert to pay your taxes and about your identity, which is more than some countries).
And if you can’t do it yourself, you can find someone to do the typing and clicking for you. Think of any sort of legal process in the subcontinent and you’ll find a peripheral industry that has sprung up around it, offering much-needed services. Typists, copiers, stamp paper providers and more are all so enmeshed in the system that they confidently venture opinions on the phrasing of contracts and pleas, often what the lawyer will suggest anyway.
Just imagine a DPO – Divorce Processing Outsourcing unit – taking your calls, filling in your forms and more – all for a convenient fee. Spreading peace and wealth, as it were. So not only would indiasimpledivorce.com make life better for the couple, it would also create a secondary industry that empowers others.
An Indian DIY divorce site could also have a “Dowry Return Calculator,” where the husband and his family can enter the amount of stuff they’ve asked for and the site sneakily adds 30% to the total that they must return to the wife. Not to mention an “Alimony Calculator,” which has a special option of “Lived with His Parents” which functions like Uber’s surge pricing, doubling the amount an ex-husband must pay for every year his wife lived with his folks.
Ultimately, online means faster. And we desperately need our legal systems to move faster. More than 27 million cases are currently pending in India’s courts – and those don’t even include the ones that are appealed. More than 6 million of these cases have lasted for longer than five years. After a series of horrific rapes outraged the nation, the government set up a series of fast-track courts to speed up cases concerning violence against women. Were they effective? The Nirbhaya rape took place in 2012, and in 2018, despite a sentence, the process is still in appeal. So, no.
The fact is, we need stopbeingpatipatni.in – we need it so that women don’t feel trapped, like second-class citizens, and instead have a way out in cases of true need And we need all of this is available easily, quickly and with the click of a button. A DIY divorce site is all that and more. Laura Wasser, can I be your Indian franchisee? I’ve got multiple domain names ready!