Library Q&A: Representing Yourself in Family Matters in Missouri

Q:  If I want to represent myself in a family law matter, where can I go for help and forms in Missouri?

A: Dealing with a difficult situation is never easy. It is especially difficult if you are unable to shoulder the cost of legal representation. Having an attorney on your side that knows the language of the law and how to navigate the court system is immeasurably reassuring. If you simply do not know where to look to find a local attorney, start with the Missouri Bar Association web search. The Missouri Bar Association has also compiled a list of attorneys and organizations that do pro bono (free or income-adjusted) legal work in the state.

Some Missourians do prefer to represent themselves, however. The Missouri Courts have created a number of resources to help self-represented litigants in the area of family law. Self-represented litigants (also called pro se litigants) should start by watching the video or reading the written materials on how the court system works. And then click through to the area of law they are interested in. For example, if you are interested in a simple divorce that both parties agree to, click on Dissolution of Marriage. When you have finished reading the information there, click on the link to go to the Litigant Awareness Program Completion form. You’ll need to fill it out and submit it to the Court.

The forms the Court provides for self-represented litigants are linked from the menu at the right of each page. For example, if you are petitioning the court to start divorce proceedings, you would use the Dissolution of Marriage – Petitioner forms.

Be aware! While you may find many resources that can help and many people who can offer information, such as court clerks and helpful local law librarians, none of us can offer legal advice. For that, you’ll need an attorney.