Portable Releases New Online Platform for Separating Couples

Wednesday, July 9, 2020

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Portable, a design and technology company based in Melbourne, Australia alongside National Legal Aid, launched amica, a digital platform that allows previously married or de facto couples to separate online. It’s designed for couples who are generally “amicable” with their separation to negotiate the terms of their separation without the need for lawyers. Separating couples can discuss and agree on the division of assets and property as well as create parenting plans if there are children involved, without the need to engage lawyers or meet in person.

The digital platform uses artificial intelligence to predict and suggest a fair split of assets. Portable worked closely with National Legal Aid and legal aid bodies in every state and territory to inform the machine learning model. It is expected to reduce the legal bills of separating couples, which tend to cost tens-of-thousands of dollars, and reduce pressure on family law courts where waiting times can extend over several years.

Portable worked to design and develop the product over the past three years, from concept initiation stage through to launch, working in successful partnership with National Legal Aid. The product has been built with scalability in mind and the company now hopes that the technology can be applied to other matters such as civil claims in a range of other jurisdictions. It follows other attempts at online dispute resolution with Rechtwijzer in the Netherlands that also looked at assisting in separations of couples. Portable’s work is the first to incorporate AI into online dispute resolution. 

Simon Goodrich, co-founder of Portable says that amica has the potential to significantly impact on the experience for people looking to separate.

"As both a research and technology company, we saw the human need for online dispute technology increasing each year, especially with the length of time it takes for matters to progress through the family court,” says Mr Goodrich. 

“Governments, courts and tribunals need to find better ways to improve the user experience for citizens and we believe that amica provides not only an example of how this can take place with divorce and separation matters but casts the imagination forward to how design, technology and data science can help assist in a range of other disputes that Australians are experiencing each day. The potential impact is significant. Empowering people to own and understand the separation process for divorced or separated de facto couples, while reaching agreement amicably, allows not just fairer, faster outcomes but better access to justice and empowerment.” 

The project was driven by National Legal Aid and led by project Chief Gabrielle Canny, who is also the Director of the Legal Services Commission of South Australia. NLA represents Australia’s legal aid commissions, the nation’s largest providers of family law legal assistance. 

“This is not a pie-in-the-sky project dreamed up by computer boffins and pointy-headed lawyers in ivory towers,” says Ms Canny.

“Right from the start, we’ve been guided by ongoing feedback from everyday people with lived experience of everyday family law problems. They helped us design, build and test amica.”

amica will be free for use until the end of 2020 at which point a small fee will be charged to support and advance the project. 

Portable will be hosting a full product demo, which is open to the public, on Friday the 17th of July at 1pm. You can register for the event here.  

Simon Goodrich and Gabrielle Canny are both available for comment and interview.  For more information and to coordinate interviews please contact Hayley Hewitt on hayley@portable.com.au or by calling 1300 323 179.

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