Missouri Supreme Court Adopts New Requirements and Forms For Parties Not Represented by Counsel in Dissolution of Marriage, Paternity, Legal Separation, and Modification Proceedings

Effective yesterday, July 1, 2008, Supreme Court Rule 88.09 comes into effect which requires parties not represented by counsel to participate in a litigant awareness program that explains the risks and benefits of self representation, as well as requiring certain court forms to be used and accepted by the Court. The amended rule reads as follows:


Every party not represented by counsel who participates in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, parentage or the modification of a judgment in any such proceeding shall:

(a) Complete a litigant awareness program that includes an explanation of the risks and responsibilities of self-representation, unless waived by the circuit court. The awareness program shall be prepared by a committee designated by this Court, but each circuit may determine the manner and means by which the training shall be provided and the proof of compliance; and

(b) Unless such use is waived by the trial court, use the pleadings, forms, and proposed judgment prepared by a committee designated by this Court that have been approved by this Court. These forms shall be accepted by the courts of this state, until disapproved or superseded by this Court.

(c) Nothing in this Rule 88.09 prevents a court from determining the legal sufficiency of any pleading nor prevents a court from entering judgment in a form different from the judgment form approved pursuant to Rule 88.09(b).