Learn about the fees the court charges, and how the court might waive those fees and file the papers for free for people who cannot afford them.
When you start a court case or file a document with the court, you may be required to pay a fee, known as a "filing fee." Whether you have to pay a fee – and the amount of fee you are required to pay – depends on what type of case you are starting or what type of document you are filing.
Each court has different filing fees. Check with your local court to find out what the fee is to file your papers.
If you cannot afford to pay a filing fee, you can file an "Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis," also known as a "fee waiver application." This is a written request to the court to waive the filing fee. You must demonstrate that you are not able to pay the fee.
To request a fee waiver, fill out an application AND an order to submit with your paperwork. Be sure to submit your fee waiver application, fee waiver order, and all of the paperwork you are trying to file to the court. The judge will review your request. If the judge approves your application, the clerk will file the documents you submitted.
If you are trying to waive the fee to file a Joint Petition for Divorce, BOTH SPOUSES must complete separate fee waiver applications. The court cannot review the request to waive the fee without both applications.
A few things to know about fee waivers:
- Expiration: If granted, a fee waiver is only good for one year. If you need the court to waive additional filing fees after the order expires, you must reapply.
- What's Waived: If your fee waiver is granted, you will not be charged to start a case or file documents. The costs for the sheriff to serve your documents are also waived. In the district court, there is no charge for available court interpreters.
- Denial: If your fee waiver application is denied, you cannot appeal it to a higher court. You will have to pay the filing fee in order to file your documents.