Lawyers caution Texans about do-it-yourself divorces

The process of divorce involves intricate issues, which relate to children, the division of property and other important matters. However, a recent Texas Supreme Court decision has aimed to make things "simple" for divorcing couples, permitting a do-it-yourself divorce option that does not involve a lawyer. Nevertheless, legal scholars caution individuals about using this divorce option, warning that a simple mistake could result in heavy consequences.

Six Texas Supreme Court justices recently approved the state's adoption of do-it-yourself divorce forms. The highest court initially rejected the method in February; yet, justices voted in favor of the decision in November 2012 after revisions were made to the forms.

Proponents of the divorce forms

Proponents of the new ruling assert that the change will benefit lower income Texans. Specifically, those who cannot afford traditional legal aid may have an affordable option.

However, only couples without real property or children are eligible for this divorce strategy. When children, shared assets or real property are involved, there are many other issues that come into play, such as visitation orders and division of property.

Critics of the divorce forms

While the divorce forms seem like a quick and easy option, family law lawyers worry that they could lead to complicated legal problems for couples in the future. A simple mistake in filing the paperwork could create a host of troubles down the road.

For example, a person seeking divorce has to file in his or her county of residency. If one makes an error and fails to assert proper jurisdiction, there could be question as to the validity of a divorce.

What if one person has moved on and has children outside of the marriage after what he or she thought was a divorce? What if one spouse purchases a new home? If the divorce was not properly finalized, these scenarios could create legal complexities.

Furthermore, critics of the do-it-yourself divorce assert that the court should not encourage filers to forgo the aid of an attorney. The form may persuade wealthier individuals to utilize the process, opting for the "easier" and cheaper method. In turn, a person could miss something important, which an experienced attorney could have addressed.

Ultimately, even the simplest divorce cases can be multifaceted and lead to legal trouble. Therefore, it is important to have the support of legal experts.

If you are confronting a divorce, you may want to hire a lawyer that has knowledge of the process and other family law issues. An attorney can help give you peace of mind.