Why the new “do-it-yourself” divorce forms may not be right for you

Responding to a perceived need for increased avenues for low-income individuals to access divorce court despite being unable to afford legal representation, the Texas Supreme Court approved a standardized for allowing divorce without a lawyer in a 5-3 decision. The form is specifically tailored to Texas law, and will be available only to low-income couples able to demonstrate indigency, without children, and filing uncontested divorces. The court has ordered that the forms be published for a period of public comment before the new procedure is fully approved.

The forms are not anticipated to work effectively in every situation, and dissenting opinions noted that pro-bono representation is a far better means to provide legal assistance to indigent litigants in order to protect against situations such as an individual being unaware that they are entitled to retirement funds or other benefits which have been accumulated by their spouse. The court says “it is always best to hire a lawyer” in order to manage a divorce, but believes that the lack of resources available to low-income spouses seeking divorce makes the measure a necessity.