If you wish to resolve your legal problem in court, you may be required to pay court fees. The requirement to pay court fees depends on the type of legal problem you would like the courts to help with.
In this article, we will cover when individuals will have to pay court fees. Additionally, we discuss what to do if you can't afford your court fees.
Click here to see a complete list of fees required by Cook County family court.
New Case Filing Fee
To start a new court case, you must file a petition with the court. This can be done by an attorney – but if you do not have one, you must file the petition yourself and pay all required fees.
For family law cases, petitions cost $388.00 USD to file. This excludes petitions to establish paternity, which are free to file.
Service of Process Fees
Although technically not a court fee, you may want to consider the fees associated with service of process.
If you want to start a lawsuit, you must make sure the other party is properly served notice of the lawsuit.
Depending on your case, you may be able to serve the other party via certified mail. Otherwise, you can pay to serve the other party through:
- the Cook County sheriff's office, which typically charges a fee between $50.00-$60.00 USD; or
- a special process server, with varying fees
You must file an appearance if you wish to attend court hearings regarding your lawsuit. The cost to file an appearance in Cook County family court is typically $250.00 USD.
What if I Can't Afford My Court Fees?
If you are unable to pay required court fees, you may request to file a fee waiver. Once a fee waiver is approved, the court will waive all fees associated with your court case.
To apply for a fee waiver, you must share the court information about your finances, including: