Attorney Edward L. Amaral Jr. has broken new ground in the field of law with the launching of Online Divorce Mediation.com (ODM).
Amaral, president of the family law firm, Amaral & Associates P.C. with law offices located in Winthrop and Boston, started the separate branch of the nationwide business in November.
“Online Divorce Mediation is way that people can get divorced over the Internet, basically in the comfort of their own homes – rather than having to come in to an office and confront each other face-to-face,” said Amaral.
Amaral is hoping that ODM can become a known entity for couples who are planning a divorce.
“The whole idea is that divorce is a very fragmented business,” explained Amaral. “When you think of insurance, you think of Geico; when you think of a hamburger, you think of McDonald’s; when you’re thinking of divorce, there’s really no entity that’s associated with divorce. So what we’re trying to do is make Online Divorce Mediation an entity that people think of when they first think of a divorce.”
He said the goal of ODM is to help couples get a divorce that is amicable and can be done in a quick, thorough, convenient and inexpensive manner.
Here’s how the ODM process begins: One spouse will contact the law office and ask for information about ODM. An attorney will ask if he/she wants that information sent to his/her spouse by email.
“If both spouses are on board, they’ll have a choice to make – they can do the divorce by video conferencing, in person, or by the phone,” said Amaral. “If they want to do it by video conferencing, both parties will be able to log on and conduct the mediation in a video conference with a mediator. If they don’t have a [video] camera, they can download and order a camera from their computer.”
Amaral believes that his law practice is the first in the country to lay the groundwork and start executing divorces online. He has been performing contested divorces since 1994.
“About 75 percent of what I do are contested divorces – the other 25 percent are mediated,” said Amaral.
He noted that ODM is available in all 50 states. “We have a network of mediators throughout the United States that have agreed to work with us pursuant to the structure that we have for Online Divorce Mediation,” said Amaral.
The divorce mediation fee is $999 per spouse, which includes three hours of mediation time, plus the preparation of the divorce filing and the divorce agreement, including both parties’ financial statements.
“For $999, clients get their divorce mediated in the comfort of their own home,” said Amaral. “Typically when I do contested divorces, they can run anywhere from $7,000 to $100,000 – on the average a contested divorce will cost you $7,000 to $25,000.
“With Online Divorce Mediation, you’re getting just as thorough a job; you’re preparing your divorce in an amicable fashion; and the mediator will guide the parties in reaching a resolution pursuant to what a judge would do in their case,” said Amaral. “When you’re a divorce mediator, you represent neither party. You just have to reach an agreement and come to a resolution of all issues.”
Amaral said what ODM is doing is helping couples reach an agreement regarding issues concerning custody, child support, alimony, division of assets, and division of personal property, division of real estate, life insurance, and medical insurance.
Spouses can review all divorce documents through a system called Web-Ex. “We’re able to review documents with a client online as well as speak to them,” said Amaral.
Amaral, who has a video on his firm’s Web site explaining the process, said he highly recommends that couples planning a divorce consider ODM.
“I say in the video that if there’s one thing that every party that goes through a divorce agrees upon is that they don’t want to waste money on attorneys,” said Amaral. “If someone doesn’t want to do Online Divorce Mediation, that’s fine – but they’re both going to end up spending tens of thousands of dollars unnecessarily and the result that they’re going to achieve may not be nearly as good as what they’re going to receive as a result of mediation.”
More information about ODM is available at onlinedivorcemediation.com or by visiting Amaral and Associates law offices at 246 Revere St., Winthrop, or 63 Atlantic Ave., Boston.