Most initial court filings and requests for relief require a filing fee. The court has an Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs, sometimes called an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, that you can file if you feel you cannot afford the fees.

Filing an Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs
  • You must complete all sections on the form. This includes information about your income, expenses, and assets, including a house, car, cash, and bank accounts.
  • You must sign the form in front of a notary, which means you swear to the truth of the information you give. The clerk at the court can serve as a notary for you.
  • You can file the application along with any other required forms needed for the type of relief you are seeking from the court.

The court clerk will review your application and notify you if your request for the fees to be waived is granted. If your application is granted, the court clerk will discuss with you any details about serving papers, if necessary.

Qualifying for a Waiver of Fees and Service Costs

You will qualify for a waiver of fees and service costs if

  • You receive public benefits that are a major portion of your subsistence or
  • Your income is at or below 150% of the poverty level.

For purposes of the above, your income includes the income of family members who live with you.

In addition,

  • If the clerk finds that you are unable to pay the filing fee without spending resources necessary to maintain you and your dependents, the clerk will waive the entire filing fee.
  • If the clerk finds that you are unable to pay the costs of service without spending resources necessary to maintain you and your dependents, the clerk will waive the costs of service. The clerk can choose the method of service.

In some cases, if you win your case, the court may order the other side to pay the court for the fees or costs that you were not able to pay.

If your fees or costs of service are waived but you become able to pay them while the case is still pending, you must reimburse the court for those fees or costs. If you qualify for a waiver, you will have to sign an agreement to pay the money if your financial circumstances improve.

Application Denials
  • If your application is denied, you will be notified by the clerk.
  • The filing fee and any applicable service fees must be paid within 30 days or your case may be dismissed.
  • You have the right to appeal this order to the judge. Your appeal must be filed in writing with the clerk within seven days of the date of the order.
  • If your appeal is denied, you will owe any fees associated with your filing.