Family Law Cares
Mobilizing Texas attorneys to help Texas Families in need
Family Law Cares is an initiative of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas to organize and coordinate pro bono legal services in divorce and other family law cases for indigent Texans.
This program was created in response to the proliferation of divorce forms being used by pro se litigants in the family courts. The Texas Supreme Court approved a set of forms designed to take the place of attorneys in family law actions, although in their report the Court admitted that retaining an attorney to represent you in family law matters was preferable.
To the family lawyers of Texas, no form can take the place of legal representation. It is the belief of most Texas family lawyers that litigants who represent themselves are endangering themselves, their children and the futures of both. The position of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas is that divorce or other family law matters require the aid of a legal professional, and that not having legal help could doom pro se litigants to a variety of more dangerous problems.
In addition, the experience of Texas family lawyers is that encouraging pro se representation clogs the courtrooms of the state with people who have no working knowledge of the law. It is their right as citizens to represent themselves, but the results can be disastrous in family law cases. Pro se litigants often believe judges and court clerks are there to educate and inform them about the law and court procedures. Their need to understand what is going on in court tends to clog courtrooms and slow down court procedures for everyone involved.
The idea of Family Law Cares has grown beyond the forms issue. The goal of Family Law Cares is to solve or at least greatly relieve the problem of indigent legal services in Texas through organization and technology.
In 2011, 58,000 Texas families facing divorce were certified as eligible for free legal services. Only about 20% of those families were helped due to the lack of attorneys to help them. Family Law Cares is designed to mobilize the following to meet the need:
- 6,300 members of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas
- 90,000 total members of the State Bar
- Thousands of recent law school graduates who are either unemployed or underemployed
- Students at the law schools of Texas
- Senior attorneys wanting to mentor younger attorneys in the state
Through this website and the efforts of the three major legal service providers in the state, Family Law Cares intends to bring attorneys together with indigent Texans who need legal services in a much more coordinated manner.