Things to consider when contemplating do-it-yourself divorces in Texas

The Supreme Court of Texas recently came forward with a decision to allow do-it-yourself forms for individuals seeking a divorce. The forms are meant for low-income couples who would like to obtain a divorce without incurring the expenses of hiring a lawyer. Couples are cautioned, however, that these forms may not provide all of the answers and solutions to their problems.

The forms in Texas

The forms are tailored to Texas law and are available for uncontested divorce proceedings. These types of forms are not unusual, and 48 other states have similar forms available to their residents. Last year, about 58,000 people in Texas filed for divorce without a lawyer, which suggests that a do-it-yourself form would be useful to many.

Concerns about the forms

Although the forms provide a good avenue for certain circumstances, there is concern that couples who do not fit those circumstances will still attempt to use the forms. Each spouse is not always well informed on what he or she is entitled to during a divorce, and proceeding with the divorce without legal guidance can result in an individual's loss. The decision by the court to implement the forms was five to three, and the dissenting justices were concerned that lack of legal guidance would be an issue.

Texas divorce proceedings

For a typical procedure in Texas, one spouse must serve the divorce papers to the other spouse. At this point a temporary restraining order is often issued to protect the assets that the spouses have acquired over the course of their marriage. The discovery process takes place next, where the spouses obtain all necessary information from each other. The spouses can then discuss and settle the case. If settlement does not occur, the spouses typically go to mediation and then to trial if mediation does not result in a settlement.

A divorce in Texas takes at least 60 days. The grounds for a divorce allow for a "no-fault" divorce, but if a certain spouse is at fault for the marriage's dissolution, this may be taken into consideration when dividing property. The grounds for a fault divorce include adultery, abandonment, cruel treatment, long-term incarceration, mental hospital confinement for three years or living separately for three years.

Because of the complications with divorce in Texas and the many considerations and special circumstances that surround each marriage, it is typically a good decision to discuss the matter with a legal professional. They can provide guidance when determining division of marital property, child support, spousal support and child custody. Important consideration is also owed to any previous divorce decrees and prenuptial agreements, and a legal professional will factor these legal documents into the case of his or her client. . An experienced family law attorney is well versed in Texas law and will likely prove to be an asset for anyone considering divorce in Texas.