You have probably heard about Rechtwijzer (or you certainly will be if you have visited the HiiL website!) Our online separation platform has been live in The Netherlands for the past year and a half, guiding couples through the difficult process of separation step by step. It was born out of a Justice Needs Survey completed in Holland in 2014 which clearly spelled out the impact divorce has on Dutch society. ¾ of all divorce related problems result in mental health problems, be they stress or something more severe. 22% result in violence. Citizens reported financial worries, confusion as to the complexity of the process, and that agreements certified by courts do not always work for the couple when acted out in real life. And this impact stretches further than the separating couple themselves, but reverberates through their children, family and friends.
The mission of Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar has been to seek to reduce this burden. Through innovating the legal process of divorce itself, by reducing the adversarial nature of the process, and by making it clear and easy to follow. But for us the ultimate test comes down to whether it works for our users. For the first time we have been able to accumulate user data looking back over 6 months following their separation and we are excited to share with you what it has to say.
As previously mentioned, stress and related mental health problems have had the single biggest impact on separation proceedings. For us it was vital to find out whether our users reported reduced or normal stress levels throughout our procedure, giving us a clear indication that our choice to reduce the adversarial approach of traditional divorce can lead to an improved procedure. Using Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar led to over half of the participants experiencing low or very low stress levels during their separation, with 36% experiencing normal stress levels.
It may be difficult to believe that users experience less stress when using a platform with an average completion time of 24.3 hours. However, users can spread out these hours as they like, so as to deal with each step of the divorce at their own pace. Our users have reported as a result that they have more control over when and where they utilise the platform. In fact 84% of participants felt that they have more control over their separation as a direct result of this user empowerment.
“The process is clear and Rechtwijzer takes finding, helping with and resolving issues seriously”.
Traditionally, control is left in the hands of the lawyers hired by both parties. The Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar process does not seek to remove lawyers from the equation, but instead to integrate them in the platform. Legal professionals are vital to ensuring the quality and fairness of the agreements, and to provide guidance and support where needed, at the click of a button. What Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar seeks to do is empower legal professionals to maximise their interventions in such a way as to aid our users, but not supersede their judgement. As a result, 82% of users felt respected or very respected by lawyers or mediators on the platform.
Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar set out over five years ago to make the process of separation as clear and stress free as possible for our users. Divorce is a monumental upset in anyone’s life and the legal process should not make that undertaking more difficult than it already is. That almost 70% of the participants state that to a great or very great extent the emotional pain they felt before using Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar was healed after separating on the platform is hugely encouraging for this mission. Indeed, over 70% of the participants found the process fair to a great or very great extent. As a result, it has been hugely positive to hear the improved emotional impact of Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar on our users lives.
It is equally important to ensure that the quality of the agreements couples have been guided to making are a marked improvement over those of a traditional divorce process. When asked 72% of the participants rated their experience on the platform with 8 out of 10 and 70% said that its use led to effective and sustainable solutions.
We are thrilled that initial data indicates so clearly that Rechtwijzer Uit Elkaar is managing to provide a better pathway for users going through a divorce both emotionally and in terms of the quality and sustainability of their agreements. We will continue to innovate, evolve and expand this offering both for our separation platform and for different disputes such as landlord tenant in the coming years.