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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Divorce Robot

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
As a student at the University of Michigan in the early 1980s, I recall taking a computer science class to learn what was then called computer language: BASIC, Fortran, Cobal. We fed stacks of carefully completed cards into a giant computer; the cards contained instructions for the computer and took a dozen just to run a simple math equation.

Today, it's called code. And with artificial intelligence at the assist, the computer is a robot, or Bot.

We here at the Law Blogger have blogged about artificial intelligence and its applications in the legal profession. That's why a Wall Street Journal article about a robot that will "handle your divorce" caught our eye.

Many uncontested divorces have become largely administrative in their processing at the county family courts throughout Michigan. Years ago, we touted a New York City law firm that offered a divorce judgment in an hour.

Now, the WSJ profiled a bot that will assist with your uncontested divorce. Like the 60-minute divorce, all the stars and planets have to be lined-up for this to work at all, let alone work properly.

The divorce robot was designed by Joshua Browder, only 19, who gained a fair amount of tech fame with his DoNotPay "chatbot", an AI-boosted computer program designed to challenge traffic tickets. With the success of his free traffic ticket appeal application, Browder is forging ahead with a divorce bot.

His idea is to bring family law to the people by offering an application this February that will, according to the WSJ, "generate all the documents necessary to file for divorce, without involving lawyers." The WSJ estimates that a whopping 95% of all divorces are "uncontested"; the implication is that lawyers are essentially unnecessary in those cases.

As divorce lawyers, we can attest to the fact that "one size does not fit all" in the family court. Many cases that appear amicable at first-blush really are in-fact contested.

In most cases, there are several issues that require a family court professional to resolve. Income to determine child support, supervised parenting time, high-net-worth property division and myriad custody issues come to mind to name just a few such issues.

Just this past month, we blogged about block-buster custody issues involving custody and the vaccination of children and the joint custody of a biological father who conceived his child from the rape of the mother.

We would also challenge the estimate that 95% of all divorces are uncontested. Our law firm believes that every case is different; each has at least one or two legal issues that depend on the facts of the family; however subtle.

So we will not plan to hang-up our divorce cleats anytime soon, but do wish Mr. Browder the best of luck in bringing the law to the people. He is most certainly on the right track in that regard.

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