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User-Friendly Divorce Forms? Texas Supreme Court Getting ‘Consumer-friendly’
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On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court’s efforts to create and authorize a user-friendly divorce forms for litigant came up for discussion during a meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court. At the meeting, recommendations from a task force called Solutions 2012, aimed at helping low-income Texans gain access to justice were reviewed.

However, apparently, the lawyer community is not happy. G. Thomas Vick, a Weatherford attorney wrote in an opening letter to the report, “If the practice of law in Texas is to be reduced to set of check-the-box forms, and our judiciary is to become a network of do-it-yourself help centers, then it seems that the lawyers of this state ought to have input in that decision.” Incidentally, Thomas Vick is also a co-chairman of the Task force and has been a constant voice of dissent.

The chairman of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee, Charles ‘Chip’ Babcock said “The state doesn’t have do-it-yourself divorce paperwork sanctioned by the Texas Supreme Court, but people often go online to find forms and try to figure out complicated family law on their own.”

  
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Philip Vickers, a commercial lawyer at the Cantey Hanger Law firm in Fort Worth told the media that low-income people, who cannot afford an attorney, but are also not eligible for Legal Aid services, often end up handling their own divorces. Vickers has been urging pro bono efforts.

Though Texas already has a few court-approved forms for other issues like seized property etcetera, this would be a first attempt of its kind to create a uniform, entry-level litigation type form.

There are many questions raised around the issue including the change in forms with changes in current law and worries that people without legal expertise would make mistakes in filling out the forms correctly.

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However, as shown by recent studies, eLawyering has come of age, and there are a number of law firms running portals with pre-litigation forms that reduce costs of paperwork for litigants. In fact the American Bar Association has also created an annual award for innovations in eLawyering.





 

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