November 16, 2018

Firm’s lawyers know how splitting couples feel

Jamie Kurtz fell in love when she was 29 years old. But by the time the San Fernando Valley native was 30, she was already divorced. 

Kurtz’s marriage lasted less than a year, and the divorce process took almost as much time and money as had the wedding and its planning. After going through that emotionally and financially difficult situation, she decided last year to start Simply Divorced, a business that offers uncontested divorce services for a flat fee. 

“I wanted to help people who are either less fortunate, or millennials who don’t have thousands of dollars to throw away on a divorce,” said Kurtz, a lawyer. “I could make it as easy as possible by providing affordable legal and emotional support.”

In the United States, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, according to the American Psychological Association’s website. And  millennials who have decided to end their marriages may still be caught in a financial bind. Statistically, they make thousands less per year than previous generations, and almost 20 percent of them live in poverty, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Those who have decided to end their marriages amicably can pursue an uncontested divorce in which they can come to agreement on the terms of their divorce, including child custody and division of assets, rather than getting a judge involved. 

At Simply Divorced, the fee for an uncontested divorce is $3,500, which includes all filing charges. (If a divorce becomes contested, Simply Divorced can continue to work with a client, but the fee is no longer flat if proceedings go to court.) Some attorneys, on the other hand, charge hundreds of dollars per hour to handle such cases. 

Kurtz, now 34, comes to the business having practiced in the areas of intellectual property, personal injury and business litigation. Her founding partner, Courtney Glickman, 32 — who went through a divorce in her early 30s and is now remarried — did estate planning for a family law firm. 

But both partners say handling divorce is more than a legal process for them. “Both of us have gone through divorce personally, so we can walk through it emotionally,” Kurtz said. 

“We want to open ourselves up to our clients,” Glickman said. “They can text, call or email us, whether their questions are legal or emotional. People are concerned to talk to their attorneys because they think they’ll be charged for every minute. It differentiates us because they don’t have to worry about that.” 

Glickman and Kurtz also refer clients to therapists, movers, handymen and home decorators for no additional fee. 

Since establishing Simply Divorced in 2015, Glickman and Kurtz, who work out of an office in Santa Monica, have served 15 clients throughout California. Most of the clients have been between the ages of 27 and 50, and it’s been an even split of men and women. 

One female client in Beverly Hills, whose divorce is ongoing, said Kurtz’s and Glickman’s own experiences with divorce helped her during a difficult time. 

“Jamie and Courtney could relate to me and what I was going through in a personal way, which brought me a lot of comfort while I was going through the divorce process,” she said. “They made a difficult period in my life very manageable [emotionally and financially] and I was able to concentrate on my kids, rather than worrying about the legal proceedings or my financial situation.” 

Kurtz and Glickman don’t become involved in the process of procuring Jewish gets, but the two have volunteered their legal services for Orthodox Jewish clients. 

“Divorce is shunned in their community,” Kurtz said. “We’ve helped Orthodox people pro bono to get them out of their situations.” 

Whether a divorce is uncontested or there are disagreements among spouses, Kurtz said that she and Glickman want to continue assisting people with getting back on their feet. 

“We want to help people make their divorces as … stress-free as possible,” Kurtz said. “They need to save their money and energy and focus on starting over.”