Indigent couples that need a lawyer’s help with a simple divorce would be out of luck at Houston Volunteer Lawyers without the new pro se divorce forms that the Texas Supreme Court approved last fall.
Resources are so scarce at Houston Volunteer Lawyers, a service of the Houston Bar Association, that this year the organization decided it would only provide volunteer attorneys for people with complex divorces involving children or property, says executive director Alissa Rubin Gomez. But on March 21, the organization will hold its first legal clinic using the new divorce forms, which are for uncontested divorces with no children or real property.
Gomez notes, “The idea came from the forms: How can we utilize this to help this sector of people?”
Houston Volunteer Lawyers coordinated appointments with clients who are eligible to use the forms. Thirty volunteer lawyers from Exxon Mobil Corp. will each spend an hour with each client to help complete the forms and give instructions on using the forms in court, explains Gomez. A Houston Volunteer Lawyers staff attorney who practices family law will train the Exxon Mobil Corp. attorneys about the forms before the clinic, she adds.
“I think the lawyers, I presume, feel they are able to provide a pretty comprehensive service and know at the end of the hour-long appointment, they have given them [clients] what they need,” says Gomez.
-- Angela Morris