Pro Se Divorce Clinic
By: Stephanie Askew – http://askewlegalcounsel.com/
This past July, several of us on the Denton County Bar Association Board of Directors attended the Texas Bar Leaders Conference in Houston. The conference is put on by the State Bar of Texas and I attended all of the Texas Access to Justice Commission presentations. The Texas Access to Justice Commission works with the State Bar through local bar associations to increase access to justice for low-income Texans.
During the conference, we were inspired by the initiatives taken in other areas of the state and want to increase access to justice here at home. We also recognize there is a gap between the income restrictions Legal Aid of Northwest Texas must abide by, in their clientele and actually being able to afford legal services. As a first step to try to address that gap, the DCBA has implemented a legal clinic for people without property and without children who want to file and represent themselves in divorce proceedings.
The clinics will each have two sessions. Session 1 will cover the petition, Standing Orders, the Civil Case Information Sheet, service of process or waivers, filing fees or Statement of Inability to Pay, and how to file. Two months after Session 1, Session 2 will address the waiting periods, the Final Decree, what to do if your spouse files an answer, whether a Military Status Affidavit is required, what to wear, how to “prove up” your divorce, and what to give the District Clerk after the prove up.
Unfortunately, we must limit the clinic to participants who have no minor children, or adult children with special needs, with their spouse, and neither spouse may be expecting a child. Additionally, the participants may not own real property, retirement plans, or have any financial or bank accounts in both spouses’ names. We must also limit participants to those whose household incomes are 400% or less than the current federal poverty guidelines based on their number of household members.
The next Session 1 meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 3-5pm in the conference room in the Denton County Courthouse Law Library. Applications are available on the Denton County Bar Association website and in the law library and are due by January 10, 2018. We encourage those who are interested to please apply as early as possible as space is limited and acceptance to participate is not guaranteed.