On August 20, 2008 the Advisory Commitee of the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a formal opinion that the practice of Collaborative law, a form of practice where clients agree from the outset to settle their case out of court through negotiation rather than litigation, is ethical and permissible in Missouri.
In the area of family law, both parties and their attorneys formally agree that no documents will be filed with the court until the case is resolved. Rather than taking a course of litigation, where papers are filed and served, discovery is exchanged, and the case is prepared for trial, the parties negotiate in a series of 4 way open discussions. In these discussions, the parties agree not to go to court, or even threaten to, and all information is exchanged freely and openly to assist the attorneys in resolving the case in a cooperative manner. In the rare event that the case is not settled, both parties must retain new trial counsel and the collaborative attorneys must withdraw.
The primary concern of the Advisory Committee was that the client understand the pros and cons of the collaborative process and sign a written consent and contract providing that the attorney has no choice but to withdraw should the case not settle.
Collaborative family law has been around for many years, and is quickly gaining momentum and popularity in Missouri as a superior way to resolve domestic relations cases