How much does it cost to file and do I need a lawyer?
The fee for filing a parental rights and responsibilities petition or a divorce petition is $120. There will likely be a fee for service of process (having the papers delivered to the other parent), but the amount will depend on who you use to serve the papers. The fee for mediation is $160, which is split between you and the other parent.1 If you can’t afford to pay the fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.
You are not required to have a lawyer, but it highly recommended. It is an especially good idea to have a lawyer if the other parent has a lawyer, the other parent has been abusive, and/or you believe the other parent will fight you for custody. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be able to get free or low-cost legal help. You can find more information about free or low-cost legal help on our ME Finding a Lawyer page.
1 Fees current as of 1/2019, see the Maine State Courts’ website
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.