How much does it cost to file for custody? Do I need a lawyer?
The cost to file for custody varies from case to case. If you are paying a lawyer, your legal fees could depend on the level of conflict between you and the other parent and how much your attorney charges. Also, there are court costs such as filing fees and possibly serving the papers on the other parent. If you cannot afford to pay the costs, you can ask to file an affidavit, known as an affidavit in forma pauperis or a pauper’s affidavit, in which you inform the judge that you are a low-income person and ask the judge not to make you pay the court costs.1 It will be up to the judge to decide whether to waive the court costs or not.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to get free legal services – you can find organizations near you on our Oklahoma Finding a Lawyer page. If you cannot have an attorney represent you, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be helpful to you.
Note: If you have been the victim of domestic abuse or stalking and are seeking custody of your child, the court can order the abuser to pay for your attorney’s fees and costs of the custody proceedings if you request this. You would first have to prove to the judge you are currently being stalked or have been stalked or that you are the victim of domestic abuse by the other parent for the judge to grant your request.2
1 12 O.S. § 922
2 43 O.S. § 112.6