Rachael Scharrer has made lemonade from life’s lemons, to say the least. In 2012, as her then-husband uttered the words: “We’re done”, the end of her marriage marked the beginning of her business, summoned from the depths of her battle through the painstaking process of divorce. “I decided to help other people in a similar situation, using my experience and things [I’d] learned to help others better navigate their divorce than I did,” says Rachael, who describes her former marriage as “colourful” – complicated by complexities such as domestic violence, addiction, mental health and the welfare of her two young children. “And so, Divorce Answered was established.”
Rachael, who’d previously worked her way up the ranks in the motor industry, put together a fleet of timesaving tools for would-be divorcées. “Divorcing can be expensive, unpredictable and an emotionally challenging time.” And time is big money in this biz. “A family lawyer costs between $350 and $600 per hour,” Rachael explains, adding that it can easily take seven or eight hours for them to complete a Parenting Plan or Binding Child Support Agreement (you do the math).
Divorce Answered offers these customisable documents for $149 each – alongside a Separation Statement and ‘How to Best Separate’ e-book series – all aimed at stemming the sky-high costs of lawyers. “I hope that by empowering separating individuals with relevant information, that they are more confident working with their lawyer or taking on the process on their own,” says Rachael. And if you’re wondering how she found the strength to start a business in the throes of a messy split – this was her driving motivation.
“When in the planning stage and while developing Divorce Answered, I started to share my idea. Some people cried when they retold their divorce story and wished that they had a website like [this] to help them. I have heard stories from adults who were children of divorce and they wished that Divorce Answered was around decades ago to assist their parents to come to a more economical and amicable divorce. I even had lawyers say that the tools were worthy of them using.”
Although she’s tapped into a – albeit unfortunately – growing market (there were 48,000 divorces in 2015, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics), Rachael tells us that an ongoing challenge is that “many people find divorce a taboo topic.” How, then, does she deal with such a sensitive subject matter? “When you come from a place of wanting to genuinely help others and are passionate about your offering, I believe that it translates to others,” she says. “The other challenge is that the Law Society is actively campaigning against self-represented individuals and sites that encourage DIY law. However, Divorce Answered recommends that people work alongside their family lawyer, or take individualised advice from a family lawyer.”
With plans to broaden her offering with more, soon-to-be-released tools and e-books, Rachael also has an app in development – all the while working from home and raising her kids. “I find that I need to focus on the business when the children are at school and be as present as possible for them when they are home,” she says. She leaves us with a nugget of wisdom from her journey so far: “I have learnt to have faith and trust in the business and vision, to believe in the offering and to always have a bigger picture or something else to work on.”