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Filing for divorce online

Some people in our area are taking advantage of an online divorce form, possibly cheating spouses out of assets.

Some people are filing divorce online because it's cheaper, others for more deceptive reasons. A local attorney says the Texas Supreme Court made an online form option available about six months ago for those who can not afford an attorney.

Family Law Attorney at Woodburn & Watkins, LLP, Joshua Woodburn says, "There's a lot of people who are using the system who don't, who aren't poor, who aren't indigent, who don't need to use these services, but are doing so. In some cases to hide assets from the other spouse."

At the same time, low-income individuals filing online may not know what rights they're giving up. Woodburn says the process can be very complicated in Texas as far as figuring out what's community property, right of reimbursement, awarded spousal support, and child support.

He says, "One party may be in control of all the assets, and other party may not have any knowledge of it. So the forms that are being promulgated are really, can be detrimental to the person who doesn't have knowledge of that information." Amarillo Family Support Services Crisis Services Coordinator Angie Stoval says, "When they show up in court, they don't exactly feel prepared. They feel intimidated by that process."

For example, a wife filed claiming she does not have children thinking it's not an issue for them, but she really had three. Woodburn says, "The father may not have had any right to see his children, and the mother may not have had any right to see, to have any child support, or any other help. Just because she didn't understand what the forms were saying."

Woodburn says the forms are best for people who do not have kids or assets, and have been married for a brief period of time. He says, "The biggest problem that may occur is they approve the forms as they're written. And that could mean that you need to appeal that case and that can make things much more expensive than the original divorce would be."

For free legal advice, you can contact Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas at (806) 373-6808.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10. 

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