Log off from your marriage

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The Independent Online
FOR COUPLES who can no longer bear to talk to each other, it may prove ideal. A legal firm has launched the world's first online divorce service to help couples end their marriage in cyberspace.

Instead of sitting in solicitors' offices, clients simply answer a few questions before their decree nisi is e-mailed to a lawyer they will probably never meet.

Richard Cohen, legal director of Desktop Lawyer, the company behind the scheme, said yesterday that divorce had become a "product", like anything else on the internet: "What we've done is to commoditise legal services. The personal service ethos is disappearing from the law as it did from insurance and banking."

Desktop Lawyer also offers downloadable tenancy, confidentiality and employment agreements, and trust papers.

Getting divorced is the company's most expensive "product" at pounds 79.99.

The procedure is straight forward; potential divorcees register with Desktop Lawyer and download their divorce. The interactive software asks a series of questions while drafting the necessary documents.

Once completed, the documents and an explanation of what to do with them can be printed at home. The papers are simultaneously e-mailed to a legal team for checking.

A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's department, which last year produced a discussion document on the subject, said yesterday: "The aim of the game is not to simplify divorce - that's not the point. It is to simplify access to the information relating to divorce."