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Controversial Texas DIY family law forms approved

Many individuals can be tempted by the prospect of a "do-it-yourself" divorce, particularly if they are concerned about their expenses. If a simple family law matter can be resolved quickly and easily, some prefer to compile and present the court documents by themselves. Other people, particularly those engaged in more involved cases, often prefer more thorough guidance.

Recently, the Texas Supreme Court approved a set of standardized forms as part of an effort to streamline simpler divorce cases. Despite opposition from many family lawyers, six of the nine Texas Supreme Court justices voted in favor of the new forms. The remaining three justices disagreed with the controversial decision.

According to a Dec. 6, 2012 Texas Tribune article, the alternatives for low-income Texans had previously been limited. A source from the Texas Access to Justice Commission stated that legal aid services and pro bono lawyers had been overwhelmed with requests for help in 2011.

The forms were apparently most suitable for use in uncontested, uncomplicated divorces. Petitions that were likely to involve other family law matters, such as child support agreements, alimony or property division were not recommended for the DIY approach. Neither were potentially complex high asset divorce cases.

Though many herald the arrival of the forms as a useful benefit for low-income residents, they represent just one of a number of legal options available. Divorce proceedings can become more complicated than expected; the right legal decision for one person may not suit another. For individuals seeking an equitable dissolution of marriage, a well-researched process can offer the best path to resolution.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "New Forms Allow Couples to Divorce Without Attorney," Audrey White, Dec. 6, 2012

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