For years, the Texas Supreme Court has been sought to offer do-it-yourself forms for uncontested divorces. To the surprise of no one, the family law section of the Texas Bar has opposed this change vociferously. I was recently talking with a friend who is a judge in Texas. He suggested that a small part of this opposition was based on a realistic concern that these forms may oversimplify things, and elide potential pitfalls couples may fall into. It is impossible to encapsulate all of the possibilites into a single, pre-printed form. However, the judge noted that most of the opposition comes from the simple fact that this change will eliminate business for the family lawyers.
Now, at long last, the forms were approved. Mary Flood reports:
From the it’s-about-time department – the Texas high court has OKd revised forms for folks who want a divorce and have no kids or real property holdings. It’s the quicky, no-lawyers divorce. Some would argue it should be available to even more folks. But this is what we have so far.
From the Texas Supreme Court June 18, 2013:
COURT APPROVES REVISED FORMS FOR UNCONTESTED DIVORCES FOR COUPLES WITHOUT CHILDREN OR REAL PROPERTY
In an order posted Tuesday the Texas Supreme Court issued revised do-it-yourself divorce forms deigned for poor couples without real-property holdings and children and without contested issues in their divorce.
The revised forms establish a section for a divorcing couple to identify retirement accounts each may hold and possibly to divide retirement in the final divorce decree. Any division of a retirement account, the forms note, must be enforced by a qualified domestic-relations order that should be prepared by an attorney.
The Court approved the initial divorce forms in November. They were immediately effective, subject to public comment. The revised forms become effective immediately. Order on revised divorce forms
I really have no speciality in Texas divorce law, other than the small unit I teach on Texas marital property. I blog about this development as an example of how the entrenched bar opposes developments to innovations to promote access to justice, that eliminate the need for lawyers. Some of the concern is valid (a point that technologists all-too-easily overlook), but much of the concern is motivated by self-protectionism. This year-long struggle over something as simple as forms is a preview of things to come as new forms of technology facilitate the practice of law.
Kudos to the Texas Supreme Court for persevering and offering this service to Texans.