Last year, the Texas Supreme Court established the Uniform Forms Task Force with the ultimate goal of creating standard divorce forms for Texans who want to represent themselves during a divorce. Recently, the same court refused a request by the State Bar of Texas board of directors to suspend the task force’s work on the Texas Divorce forms in order for the Bar to study the issue more in depth.
In theory, the Texas Supreme Courts hopes these new forms will make is easier for litigants to represent themselves in uncomplicated, uncontested divorces. However, the State Bar of Texas has its concerns.
Many family law attorneys argue that the new forms are not necessarily needed, citing the fact that many free forms already exist. Moreover, some believe the new forms may merely encourage more do-it-your divorces, which would be detrimental in complicated divorces – where attempting to file without the assistance of an attorney will probably do more harm than good in the long run.
For example, Judge Judy Warne told the board during the Bar’s January 20 board meeting that forms already exists for divorce case litigants, but that many simply didn’t know how to use them. Moreover, Warne stated that the new forms drafted by the task force could be used by anyone – not just the poor – including those who could hire an attorney, but where “too arrogant” to do so. She warned, “They think this is the magic form that’s going to fix everything.”
Unfortunately, divorces that start out uncomplicated can get quite complicated very quickly – as with any situation as emotionally charged as a divorce. These new forms may not be able to cover all situations. In these instances, it may be too late to fix problems that would have never occurred had the litigants just consulted with an attorney in the first place.