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Negotiating divorce without lawyers

Did you know the typical legal cost for a divorce process in Australia is circa $100,000? It adds to the pressure on separating partners as it erodes their wealth and has integenerational flow on effects if there are children involved.

Tracey MacMillan of Forge Legal saw these types of costs as a problem. Even though her firm represents clients and generates fees from handling such matters – it didn’t seem right, and with rising levels of enquiry they found they were turning away 6 out of 10 prospects due to the unavoidably high costs.

However, in this problem she saw an opportunity, creating an online self-service product ( that many separating partners are able to use to reach agreement, and lower their costs by $99,000 (or 99 per cent) on average in the process.

A stylised picture of two separating partners pulling their house apart!

This is the topic of the latest case study I’ve published in conjunction with the Shared Value Project, bringing to life the stories of businesses making positive social impact through core and profitable business.

It works because, when addressing a social problem using a business model, it mobilises far more resources than would typically be the case through giving, volunteering and responsible business initiatives.

Because of legal service affordability issues, about a third of separating partners will self-represent in court, which causes legal system congestion and delays, especially if they present the wrong information or lack logic in their arguments.

A father spoke of his fear of losing his children’s inheritance if he went down the legal path after spending 4 hours filling out forms and paying $800 for a one-hour meeting from which he estimated further legal fees would be in the range $75,000-130,000.

“… you’re effectively handing over your children’s inheritance to a legal firm and a home is the pillar of financial security for a family”

This innovative approach has creates a win-win, lowering costs for clients and it is on track to become profitable for Forge Legal.


Needless to say some sectors of the legal fraternity have expressed concerns that it could disrupt the market for their services, however Tracey notes that affordability is preventing a large number of people from engaging legal services in the first place.

Tracey and Forge Legal aren’t stopping here, they have big plans and many further products and projects in the pipeline. Generating income from such products helps in providing funding for further projects and making a difference on a large scale.

You can download the full case study here.

A note of thanks to Monica Rosenfeld, Tracey MacMillan, Elissa Dargusch and Poppy Cluett who helped make this case study happen.

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Phil Preston is the CEO and Founder of The Business Purpose Project, helping executives and leaders navigate the shift to the purpose economy. He is the author of the book Connecting Profit with Purpose and several case studies, and you can contact him via or call +61 408 259 633.

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