Can’t afford to pay court fees? Ask for a fee waiver

This article was produced by CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Can’t afford to pay court fees? Ask for a fee waiver

If you have a court case, but cannot afford to pay the court costs and fees, you may qualify for a “fee waiver.” A fee waiver means you do not have to pay some or all of the court costs and fees.

Who can get a fee waiver?

You can probably get a fee waiver if you get help from the government, such as:

  • Welfare (TFA or SAGA)
  • Food stamps (SNAP)
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • State Supplement (AABD/Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled)
  • You do not make very much money, especially after taxes and deductions.

Sometimes you can get a fee waiver because you have too many expenses and cannot afford court costs.

How would a fee waiver help me?

A fee waiver means the court will not make you pay for some of its services. For example, the court may decide you do not have to pay fees to:

  • File your court forms,
  • Have a Marshal serve (give) court papers to the other side,
  • Go to a parenting education program,
  • Get certified copies of court documents, or
  • Get other services, such as transcripts or recording services.

How do I ask for a fee waiver?

If you have a family law case, fill out a court form called Application for Waiver of Fees,#JD-FM-75.

If you have a housing, small claims, or other civil case, fill out a court form called Application for Waiver of Fees, #JD-CV-120.

Where can I get the fee waiver application?

You can get the form you need:

  • At the clerk’s office in your local court,
  • From the Court Services Center at your local court.
  • Online at Connecticut’s court website: (You can also fill it out online, then print it.)
  • From this website:
       Click here if you have a family law case.
       Click here if you have a housing, small claims, or other civil case.

What do I do with my completed application?

  1. Take your completed application to the court clerk.
  2. Also take any court papers that you listed on your application.
  3. Ask the court clerk to notarize your application. (You can ask a notary or lawyer to do this, if you prefer.)
  4. The clerk (or notary or lawyer) will ask you to swear that the information you gave is true. Then you will sign your application.

Next, make 1 copy of the completed, signed form.

  • Give the original to the court clerk.
  • Keep 1 copy for your records. You may need it later at your hearing.

What happens after I give my application to the clerk?

Each court does things differently. Ask your court clerk these questions:

  • What happens next?
  • Do you need any other papers about my income or support?
  • How long will it take the court to decide?
  • How will I find out the court’s decision?

What can the court decide?

The court can approve or deny your application.

If the court approves your application, you will not have to pay certain fees. The clerk can tell you which ones.

If the court denies your application, that means the court thinks you have enough money to pay your fees. If you do not agree with the court’s decision, ask for a hearing.

What if the court denies my application?

You can:

How to Fill Out Your Fee Waiver Application

You can fill out this form:

Can I get help to fill out the application?

Yes. Ask the court clerk for help if you need it.

Fill out the top of the form:

You must list the:

  • Name of your case (Your last name vs. Last name of other person),
  • Judicial district,
  • Court address, and
  • Docket number, if you have one.

Tip: You can ask the clerk if you need help with the docket number or other information at the top of the form.

You must also list:

  • Your name (under Name of applicant),
  • Your address,
  • Your phone number, and
  • Type of case (proceeding).

Fill out the rest of the form:

Important!You must list your monthly income and expenses. If your income or expenses are weekly, multiply the weekly number by 4.3. If your income or expenses are yearly, divide the yearly number by 12. 

If a question does not apply to you, write “none” or “0.” But if you say “0” for your Total Monthly Income or Expenses, use the blank lines at the bottom of page 1 to explain how you are supported.

For example: “I live with my mother and she pays the bills.”

If you file both a Fee Waiver AND a Financial Affidavit (for family cases) form, you should check to make sure you use the same total amount to calculate the weekly and monthly numbers.

When you have completed the form:

  • Take the completed application to the court clerk.
  • Do not sign yet! You must sign in front of a court clerk, notary public or lawyer. When you sign this form, youare swearing that the information is true.

Next, make 1 copy of the competed, signed form.

  • Give the original to the court clerk.
  • Keep 1 copy for your records. You may need it later at your hearing.

The numbers below are in the same order as the numbers on your application form.

1. Dependents

People who live with you and depend on you for food, clothing, shelter, etc. In most cases that means your children under 18, a disabled or stay home spouse, or elderly parents. Do not count yourself.

2. Monthly Income

If your income is not the same every month, write your average monthly income. To do that, take your income for 1 year then divide it by 12. Look for that information on your pay stub.

A. Gross monthly income (before deductions)

List your average monthly income before taxes and other deductions.

B. Net monthly income (after taxes & deductions)

List your average monthly take-home pay (your income after taxes and other deductions).

C. Other income

List the source and average monthly amount of any public assistance, such as welfare, child support, social security, unemployment, or other public benefits or any other income.

Total Monthly Income (B+C)

Add B and C and list that amount in the box. Do not add box A.

3. Monthly Expenses

List the average monthly amount for each expense.

A. Rent or Mortgage

List the average monthly amount.

B. Real Estate Taxes

If you own your home and you did not include your monthly taxes with your mortgage on the line above, list them here.

C. Utilities

List the average monthly amount for your electricity, gas, water, etc.

D. Food

List your average monthly costs for groceries only. Don’t list SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits, if you have them.

E. Clothing

List the average monthly amount.

F. Insurance

List average monthly premium for your car, life, home, health, and dental insurance. Exception: Do not include home insurance here if you listed it as part of your mortgage expense above.

G. Healthcare expenses

Medical and dental bills for services, equipment, copays, and prescriptions.

Do not list insurance costs here.

H. Transportation

Public transportation, car repairs, gas, oil. Do not list car insurance or car payments.

I. Childcare

Include nursery school, babysitters, afterschool care costs you pay so you can work.

J. Other

Include children’s activities, school uniforms, books, lunches, diapers, laundry, haircuts, cleaning supplies, toiletries, church donations, toys, movies, etc. Also include any child support or alimony that you pay.

    Total Monthly Expenses

Add all expenses (A – J) and list that total amount in the box.

4. Assets


Assets (property) are things you own that you could sell and get cash for.

Examples: cars, furniture, cash, savings account, etc.

Estimated Value: How much you think you could get if you sold that item today.

Loan Balance: How much you still owe, such as for a car or furniture that you are still paying for.

Equity: How much money you would have left after selling it and paying off the loan.

Example: If you could sell your car for $3000 (its estimated value), but you still owe $2000 (loan balance), the equity would be $1000.

A. Real Estate

List the Estimated Value, Loan Balance, and Equityfor your real estate, motor vehicles, and any other personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, or appliances.

B. Motor Vehicles

C. Other Personal Property

D. Savings Account Balance

Write the total balance of all your savings accounts. If you don't have any, write "0."

E. Checking Account Balance

Write the average monthly balance of all your checking accounts after your bills are paid. If you don't have any, write "0."

F. Cash

List how much cash you have.

G. Other Assets

Describe any other assets and list their values.

      Total Assets

Add all amounts in the Equity column (AG)and list that total amount in the box.

5. Liabilities/Debts


Type of Debt: List every person or company you owe money to. Also include overdue items, such as utility bills, tax bills, personal and student loans, credit cards, store credit cards, medical bills you have not paid, etc.

Amount owed: List the amount you owe on the date you fill out this application.

Monthly Payment: List your average monthly payment. If you have not made payments, write “0” on this line.

Important! Do not include payments for any item you listed above in Assets.

      Total Liabilities

Add all amounts in the Amount Owed column, and list that total amount in the box.

Add all amounts in the Monthly Payment column, and list that total amount in the box.

      Page 2

Do not write anything on page 2. The court fills out this page.

Check your information on page 1 to make sure what you wrote is correct.

If you also have to fill out the Financial Affidavit, make sure your information is consistent. That’s not easy to do because the Application asks for monthly information, and the Financial Affidavit asks for weekly information. So you will have to make an adjustment to one of the forms.

This booklet was produced by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut in cooperation with Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Statewide Legal Services.

The information in this booklet is based on laws in Connecticut as of 2/2012. We hope that the information is helpful. It is not intended as legal advice for an individual situation. Please call Statewide Legal Services or contact an attorney for additional help.

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