Hollywood’s biggest celebrity divorce lawyer launches online DIY divorces for the masses
Hollywood’s most in-demand celebrity divorce lawyer has launched cut-price DIY marriage breakups for the masses on the internet.
Laura Wasser, 50, represented Angelina Jolie in her divorce from Brad Pitt, and her other celebrity clients have included Johnny Depp, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Melanie Griffith, Stevie Wonder, and the ex-wives of Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In Hollywood, Miss Wasser is known as the "Disso Queen" – a name she dislikes – because she is the first port of call for dissolving high profile marriages.
Often to be seen heading into court dressed in Valentino, with an upset celebrity in tow, she said it was time ordinary couples should have the chance to get divorced more easily.
"We see banking online, shopping online, dating online. I wanted to give people the opportunity to get divorced online," Miss Wasser told The Telegraph.
Some 46 per cent of US marriages end in divorce. The rate has fallen in recent years, partly due to the average cost of a divorce reaching $15,500, most of it on legal fees.
In California, the state with the most divorces, the average cost for a couple with children is now $26,300.
Miss Wasser herself charges celebrity clients a $25,000 retainer plus $850 an hour.
Her website – "It’s Over Easy" – is will divorce couples for as little as $750 per spouse if the dissolution is uncontested. Five steps take users through forms and financial statements. It includes a facility for serving documents on a spouse.
There are also partnerships with gyms, tanning salons, and dating websites, so divorcees can find a new partner.
"People shouldn’t have to stay in a marriage because they can’t afford to get divorced," Miss Wasser said. "At the moment they’re paying a lot of money, during a difficult and confusing time, to someone [lawyers] who may not have their interests at heart.
"I always thought there was a better way of doing it, and for the vast majority there is. Nobody knows your finances like you. Nobody knows your kids like you, Why let a judge make the decisions?"
Before qualifying as a divorce lawyer Miss Wasser, a Berkeley graduate whose initials spell L.A.W., had her own divorce following a one-year marriage in 1993. Now a mother-of-two she has never remarried.
Ever since then she has counseled amicable settlements, for both Hollywood stars and non-celebrities.
"Divorce is the great equaliser." she said. "It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you met walking the red carpet, or going to the office Christmas party, if you’re dividing up millions, or hundreds. It’s scary and its sad.
"You can feel like a failure, you can feel embarrassed. The unknown is what really gets people. Regardless of how wealthy, how famous or powerful the people I’ve worked with are, they all feel the same way – ‘What;s going to happen my kids?’. ‘Will anyone ever love me again?’. ‘Will I have enough money?’
Divorce rate is at its lowest since 1973
"If you’re used to flying private, and all of a sudden that’s going to be taken away, it’s as scary as if you’re used to going out once a month to the local Applebees and now you’re not going to be able to do that. It’s a change to your life."
She said the only difference with celebrity divorces was the intense media attention.
"If you file court paperwork its public, everybody knows the complaints you’ve made, and they’re going to write about in the magazines. Mediate it, settle it our of court is the best option. Be nice. Be reasonable. Treat your divorce like a business transaction.
"That’s true for non-celebrities too, people can do it on their own online because the laws are not terribly complicated, and whatever your pot of money is you get to keep it between the two of you."
Antagonistic divorces also take an emotional toll, whereas settling amicably means "your face doesn’t get all squinched up" from anger and frustration, she said.
With divorce requirements, like age for child support, varying among US states It’s Over Easy has launched in California and New York. Five more states are expected in the new year including Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, the "marriage capital of the world".
Miss Wasser said legal colleagues in the UK had "definitely reached out a lot" and she would "speak with them more". She added: "I think the concept is so good, I think something like this would be welcomed across the pond."
She has faced criticism as a "divorce-monger" undermining marriage, but strongly refuted the charge.
"I don’t think that’s true," she said. "In the 21st Century we’re better as humans moving on. If you can’t fix it move on, you may be better off on your own. Start your next chapter.
"Los Angeles is the land of fantasy, romance, do-overs, and I’ve seen a ton of them, both celebrities and not. I want to change the way we approach divorce so it’s not so taboo, and ugly. It’s terrible that in all these years divorce hasn’t evolved very much. I’d like to disrupt that."