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'Do-it-yourself' divorce forms debated in Texas

The divorce process is complicated and tends to have many different components. While many people realize this complication, some still attempt to navigate their way through the family law process on their own.

The Supreme Court in Texas is currently pushing for the creation of standardized forms for "do-it-yourself" divorces. This notion has caught some praise, especially from low-income individuals in Texas.

Supporters feel implementation of these forms will help provide access to justice to the state's poorest citizens, as well as decrease the pressure on courts due to pro se litigants.

The forms would be found online and would not be associated with a fee of any sort. However, a fee could be attached if and when the forms are approved.

Texas has a large number of individuals who qualify for legal aid and cannot afford to pay their own private attorney. While many Texas lawyers donate a lot of their time to providing free legal assistance, there are still many individuals who are turned away because there are not enough resources available.

While praised by some, the idea of standardized forms for divorce has its opponents, too. Those in the legal community speak out about the difficulties of these forms.

The state bar and family attorneys in Texas express their opposition, questioning whether standardized forms would actually help. They argue that individuals using these forms in a highly complex divorce case may actually end up with more serious legal problems as a direct result of their usage.

The state bar's family law council wants to emphasize that the issue should be the degree of helpfulness these forms bring, not who is for and who is against them. Opponents don't feel drafting a new set of forms will resolve the problems the forms bring, as either way complicated divorce issues should be dealt with by experienced attorneys who keep these individuals from landing themselves with more serious legal problems.

The president of the state bar has currently asked the Supreme Court in Texas to suspend the work being done on this issue and to instead allow the State Bar of Texas to analyze it.

Individuals that are now or in the future dealing with divorce may want to contact an experienced family law attorney in an attempt to avoid issues discussed above when attempting to "do it themselves."

Source: Statesman, "High court, family lawyers debate push for standardized divorce forms," Christina Pena, Apr. 2, 2012

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