There may be several fees in a court case, including filing fees and service fees.

A filing fee is the cost to start a case. Sometimes there is also a fee to file something in a case that has been already started.

A service fee is the fee to have papers served on the other party.

When you file a court case, you must either pay the filing fee or ask to have the fee waived. To ask to waive the fees, fill out and file the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs form at the bottom of this page. 

The form is also sometimes called Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis or IFP. In forma pauperis is a Latin phrase meaning "in the manner of a pauper."  Pauper is an old-fashioned word for someone who is poor.

See the Fees web page for a list of filing fees in the different court divisions.

Asking to Waive Filing Fees & Service Costs

Completely fill out all sections of the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs form. You must provide information about your income, expenses, and assets, such as houses, cars, cash, and bank accounts.

When you sign the form, you are saying everything you wrote is true and accurate. You face punishment for perjury if you do not tell the truth.

You can file the application at the same time as the other forms you are filing. The court clerk will review your application and will let you know whether your request is granted.

Qualifying for a Waiver

The court can waive your filing fee and service costs if:

  • you receive any kind of public assistance, or
  • your gross income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, or
  • the court finds you can't pay the fee without expending resources needed to support you and your dependents.

"Income" includes the income of family members who live with you.

If you become able to pay your waived fees or costs of service while your case is pending, the court may require you to pay the waived costs.

If you win your case, the court can order the other party to pay to the court the fees or costs you had waived.

If Your Request is Denied

The clerk will notify you if your application is denied. You must pay the filing fee and any service fees within 30 days, or your case may be dismissed.

You have the right to appeal the denial of your application to the presiding judge. You must file a written appeal within 7 days of the date of the order. If your appeal is denied, you must pay your filing fee and any service fees.

Asking to Reduce the Cost of the COPE Class

Parents of minor children who are involved one of these kinds of court matters must take the four-hour Coping with Separation and Divorce (COPE) class:

  • divorce
  • civil union dissolution
  • parentage
  • separation case
  • changing parental rights and responsibilities

The class costs $79. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask to have the cost reduced. If approved, the fee could be reduced to $30 or $15.

Fill out and file with the court the Helping Children Cope with Divorce Program – Application for Reduced Fee form.