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DIY Texas Divorces are Revised to Offer More Flexibility

PHOTO: Last fall the Texas Supreme Court approved simple legal forms to be used for those uncontested divorces that do not involve children or real property. Now, the forms have been revised to give low-income couples more flexibility on dividing retirement funds. CREDIT: John Michaelson
PHOTO: Last fall the Texas Supreme Court approved simple legal forms to be used for those uncontested divorces that do not involve children or real property. Now, the forms have been revised to give low-income couples more flexibility on dividing retirement funds. CREDIT: John Michaelson
June 25, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - Texans who are eligible to handle their own divorces through some simple forms now have new options if retirement accounts are involved.

According to Trish McAllister, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the original do-it-yourself legal forms had each person receiving his personal retirement funds, but the revision allows for the splitting couple to decide.

"And they can choose to do that either in a 50/50 split, or they can take each their own that they've accrued, or can decide that they want to have a different type of division," she said. "So maybe a 30/70 division, or they can decide how they want to divide them on a monetary basis."

The Texas Supreme Court approved the forms last fall for those uncontested divorces that do not involve children or real property.

McAllister said the need is there, as all the programs that provide legal help for those struggling financially only cover about one in five.

"And so that means 80 percent of the people who are low-income and can't afford a lawyer don't have any other option but to represent themselves, so I can't really state enough how important these forms are going to be," she declared.

The forms are available online at the Texas Supreme Court website and also at TexasLawHelp.org.

More information is at bit.ly/10gJwEC.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX