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Fee Waiver (Poor Person's Relief)

If you are getting public benefits, are a low-income person, or do not have enough money to pay for your household’s basic needs and your court fees, you can ask the court for a "fee waiver." This is also called "poor person’s relief." [CPLR 1101]

With a fee waiver, you won’t have to pay court costs for starting a case, filing a jury demand, appealing a court decision and getting a transcript of the trial.

 

Court Fees and Costs

Many courts charge money to start a court case. This is called a filing fee. The amount of money you have to pay depends on the court and the type of case. You may also have to pay other filing fees during your case. Check Filing Fees to see what fees apply in your case. Filing fees are not required in Family Court cases or domestic violence cases. If you did not start the case, you do not have to pay a filing fee. If you win a judgment or a settlement, the judge may make you pay back any fees that were waived.

 

Asking for a Fee Waiver

A fee waiver request must be made by filing a Motion with the court. This is done by making a Notice of Motion and a sworn Affidavit that explains your finances to the court. There is no official form for this request and different judges may require different information to decide your fee waiver request. It is best to call the Court Clerk’s Office to ask for a form or instructions. You can also visit a Court Help Center. Read about How to Ask the Court for Something in your case for more information.

 

What to Say in a Fee Waiver Request

The Affidavit given to the Court to support your fee waiver request should include the following information:

  • state that you are unable to pay the costs, fees and expenses needed to start or defend the case (or to start or answer an appeal);
  • explain the nature of the case, tell the court what the case is about;
  • include facts about your case that show there is merit to your claims;
  • include a detailed explanation of the amount and sources of your income;
  • include a detailed list of your property with its value;
  • indicate whether any other person would benefit from any award in your case, and if so, whether that person is unable to pay the costs fees and expenses.

Different judges require different proof to decide your fee waiver request. So, the court may ask you to submit additional items to prove you do not have the money to pay your court costs.

Here are some examples of fee waiver forms that may be helpful to give you an idea of what information the court wants to know. Remember, each court may have different requirements so only use these forms as a guide. Call the court for help.

Sample forms:

 

Notice

If you are starting the case, you do not have to serve the fee waiver request papers before submitting your papers to the Judge. Except, if you are e-filing your papers, you must get a fee waiver and upload the fee waiver order before you can submit your papers.

If the case has already started and you are asking for fees to be waived, you have to serve all the parties in the case with your fee waiver request papers. In New York City, you also have to serve a copy of your papers on the Corporation Counsel’s Office. Outside New York City, you have to serve a copy of your papers on the County Attorney.

 

Denial

If the court denies the request for a fee waiver, you will have to pay the fee for starting the case. If the fee is not paid within 120 days of the court’s decision, the case will be dismissed.

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