The Texas Supreme Court has approved pro se divorce forms for couples without children or property.
The court is accepting public comment on the forms, but substantial changes are not expected, the Austin American-Statesman and Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte Blog report.
In its order approving the forms, the court said it was confident they would help address the “burgeoning population” of litigants who can’t afford a lawyer or can’t obtain one through a legal service provider.
Three justices said in a dissenting statement that they feared the forms would result in more people representing themselves even when they can afford lawyers. The statement also expressed concern that litigants would be lulled into believing the forms would adequately address their interests.
A problem inherent in the system-with or without the forms- is the inordinate amount of time that Court clerks and the Courts themselves spend dealing with the pro se divorces. One long time Dallas County Associate family Law Court Judge recently retired, substantailly becuse the judge felt overrun with pro se litigants seeking divorces, which by experience, was wrongly requested or done. If the forms eliminate this problem, great! But the forms are likely to increase the total time and efforts OUR GOVERNMENT has to pay for to guide hundreds if not thousands of people from square one all the way through the process.
An analagy is: you could build your own car, but would you want to drive it? No, you would want someone who has done it before...
A problem with pro se divorce is the high probablility of fraud--either in procurement of signatures or in the failure to disclose property such as pension plans, or other assets that are not immediately at hand. The Supreme Court's order say that this should not be possible, but experience suggests otherwise.
We shall see.