Nearly everything can be purchased online; including family law legal forms. While it may be tempting to sidestep the services of an attorney, using forms without first receiving legal advice is similar to performing surgery upon yourself… you can certainly attempt it but the results will likely be less than optimal.
Before purchasing family law forms, you must understand the following:
1. Nothing is black and white in family law. The Texas Family Code is a book approximately two inches thick containing all the statutory laws pertaining to family law. Case law not included in that book also affects rights to property and children. Case law is law decided by appellate courts who at times are called upon to interpret statutory law which is not always clear as to meaning and application. Both statutory and case law affect ownership rights in property, both community and separate, as well as parent’s rights to children in divorce. These laws are complicated and are subject to different interpretations depending upon the facts presented.
2. Legal forms are designed to help people who have very little or no property to divide, no child custody disputes and who cannot afford legal advice.
3. There are a multitude of websites purporting to give guidance on what forms to use in differing situations. Most of the discussion on those sites regarding the law is generalized, and most of what is printed is inaccurate. The people who research and write content on most of those websites are not attorneys, they have no understanding of how the law is to be applied and most of the content is a summary of other inaccurate information taken off of other websites. These companies publish just enough information to sell their forms, taking no responsibility for the end result of the use of their forms.
4. Forms are designed to get a case started, and to end a case. Divorce decrees are the culmination of all the agreements of the parties or rulings of the court. Decrees must be clear and specific to be enforceable. An ambiguity in a decree means that particular provision is not enforceable. Ambiguity also causes confusion to those who are bound by the decree. Such confusion requires a lawsuit to determine what was intended in the original decree. Forms provide a multitude of options, boxes to check. If the wrong boxes are checked, or conflicting boxes are checked, you will get a very bad result.
In conclusion, using family law forms without obtaining legal advice from a competent family law attorney can lead to disaster. Consult with a family law attorney before attempting to do a divorce yourself.