filing paperwork when you can't afford an attorney

Custody FAQ: What if I can’t afford a lawyer?

Question: Can I file for custody, visitation, or support on my own if I can’t afford an attorney?

Answer: Yes, you may petition the Court and file for custody, visitation or support on your own as a “Pro Se” litigant (i.e. without a lawyer). This is done by contacting your local Court Services Unit Intake Office to schedule an appointment, during which an intake officer will assist you in preparing the petition.

If you are seeking child support, you may contact your local office of the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) for assistance. DCSE workers can assist you in many different ways that Court personnel cannot. For example, DCSE will provide a Court representative and an attorney to accompany you during your child support hearing. Furthermore, filing for support with DCSE will ensure the following:

1. DCSE will represent you in Court

2. DCSE will assist you in locating the other party

3. DCSE has enforcement capabilities

4. DCSE has access to tax refunds

5. DCSE can assist with obtaining support from a non-resident parent

If you have any questions about filing for custody, visitation, or support, feel free to contact us at 757-656-1000 or by email at We will be happy to help you!