Getting a divorce in Houston

Harris County clerk’s office: ‘Our office cannot assist you’

April 26, 2011

[Note: Also see “Divorce in Texas.”]

By Mike Hinshaw

One question that often arises among middle-class and low-income couples facing divorce is “Can I represent myself?” In legal jargon, this is referred to as appearing pro se.(Perhaps needless to say, but the well-off will almost always have different attorneys for each spouse: there’s more to fight over, and they have the resources to do so.)

In Houston, representing oneself is tough to do. Well, let’s back up. Unless you have exceptional research skills, analytical abilities that include logic (both deduction and induction) and the public-speaking capacity to present well in open court, it’s always tough.

A fool for a client?

The old adage is that only a fool has himself as a client. For one thing, it’s often difficult to remain detached enough to stick to points of law when your own emotions are involved–and emotions often run high in divorce.

So let’s say it this way: It’s tougher in Houston to go pro se than it is some other major cities. For example, in Chicago (and the rest of Cook County), people have access to the County Clerk’s office which will provide information and documents to both parties in a divorce. Of course, no legal advice is offered–still, it’s nice to be pointed in the right direction.

No help here

Apparently, though, the Harris County clerk’s office doesn’t offer such help: from the FAQ page at the Harris County District Clerk’s office:

Q: How do I file for divorce and can I obtain the documents through your office?

A: Unfortunately, our office cannot assist you with the preparation of your documents. You are responsible for preparing the documents you wish to file. Once you have your documents, you may file them in person or by mail. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 4651, Houston, Texas 77210. Our physical location is 1115 Congress, Room 23. A divorce handbook is located on the Texas Young Lawyers Association Web site located at www.tyla.org.

We’ll have more to say about the TYLA handbook in a future post. Stay tuned.

Not with restraining orders, either

Okay, another Q & A from the FAQ page, addressing a very serious topic:

Q: How can I obtain a restraining/protective order?
A: Unfortunately, our office cannot assist you with the preparation of your documents. You are responsible for preparing the documents you wish to file. Once you have your documents, you may file them in person or by mail. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 4651, Houston, Texas 77210. Our physical location is 1115 Congress, Room 23. A protective order packet is located on the Office of the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us

I don’t know about you, but I get the idea that the Harris County clerk’s office is not big on extending aid to either county or Houston residents. Fortunately, many Houston and Harris County attorneys are available to help you through a rocky, very emotional period.

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And that’s where we come in–If you’re ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.

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