A Minnesota lawyer and mediator has launched a website that aims to help divorcing parties divide their marital property, without the need for a lawyer. Called CleanSplit, the site uses an automated, sealed-bid process to allow couples to value and divide their property equitably.
“As a mediator, I would sometimes be involved in divorce mediations where much time was wasted on arguing who-gets-what from a long list of personal property,” explains Paul Jacobsen, the site’s founder. “Sometimes, more was spent on mediators and lawyers than the property was worth. I created CleanSplit to automate this process in those cases where the parties couldn’t easily agree on the property division.”
The way it works is simple. One party to the divorce registers and clicks a button to invite the other party to do the same. Both parties must pay an up-front fee of $49.99 before they can go any further in the process.
Once logged in, both parties have access to a shared property list. Each can add items to the list. Once an item is added, it cannot be deleted, but it can be marked as “excluded” and will not be part of the property division.
When both parties agree that the property list is final, they begin bidding. CleanSplit sends them a notice indicating that they have seven days to submit prices on each item. Neither party can see the other one’s bids during this phase. If there are ties, the parties are notified to revise their bids until the tie is broken.
Once both parties have completed their bidding, or the seven days have run, CleanSplit generates a report showing how the property was divided. Each item is awarded to the high bidder. CleanSplit also calculates an equalization amount, which is one-half the difference between each party’s total dollar value.
The final report can be printed out and used as an exhibit to accompany the parties’ property agreement or at trial. (Here is a sample report.)
For attorneys, the site also provides a sample stipulation and order to use in submitting the property division to a court for approval.