How to Ask the Court to Waive or Lower Court Fees
Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.
Click here to download this guide with step-by-step instructions for completing the forms.
This packet includes:
- Step by Step Instructions
- Sample Request to Waive Court Fees, Judicial Council Form FW-001
- Sample Order on Court Fee Waiver, Judicial Council Form FW-003
Government Code sections 68630 et. seq. permit the court to waive court fees and costs for litigants in certain financial situations.
Your court fees may be waived if:
- You are receiving public benefits such as Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, General Assistance, Cal-Works, SSI, SSP, etc.
- Your household income is at least 125% below federal poverty guidelines, as shown on form FW-001.
- The court finds that you do not have enough income to support your family AND pay court fees.
The court may also order partial payment of court fees, or allow payments to be made over time.
You are required to notify the court if your financial situation changes, or if you settle your case out of court. The court may require you to pay the previously waived fees.
The forms requesting a fee waiver require you to provide detailed financial information. This information will remain confidential.
You must sign your fee waiver request under the penalty of perjury. All answers must be accurate and complete. The court cannot require proof of your finances when you submit your application for a fee waiver. At a later date, though, the court may require you to verify any statements made in your application.
Step 1: Complete the Required Forms
Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001)
Order on Court Fee Waiver (Form FW-003)
Click here for instructions for completing these forms.
Step 2: Copying and Assembling
Make two (2) copies each of the Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001), and the Order on Court Fee Waiver (Form FW-003). The original should be left unstapled, while the copies are stapled.
Step 3: File your Documents
Fee Waiver forms should be filed along with your other court documents. The court will not accept your court documents without either the fees or the fee waiver forms. Fee waiver forms will not be accepted unless accompanied by other documents.
Step 4: Wait for the Court Ruling
Within five days, the court will rule on your request. You will be notified by mail of the court's decision. You can also check the status of your fee waiver request online at https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/publicdms/. If the court makes no order within five days, your waiver is automatically granted. If your fee waiver is granted, you will be able to proceed with your case. NOTE: You may have to pay these fees at a later date. See Steps 8 and 9 for more information.
Step 5: If Your Request is Denied
If your request is denied, one of three things may happen:
- If your request was denied because your papers were incomplete, you will have 10 days to either submit a revised application or pay the filing fees. The court will indicate on Order on Court Fee Waiver (Form FW-003) what is missing from your original request forms. Revise your forms, being sure to include what was missing.
- If your request was denied because you are ineligible for a fee waiver, you have 10 days to either pay the filing fees or request a hearing. To request a hearing, use form FW-006, Request for Hearing About Court Fee Waiver. The court will schedule a hearing and notify you of the date using form FW-007, Notice on Hearing About Court Fees.
- If the court needs more information, they will set a hearing. The hearing date will be indicated on the Order on Court Fee Waiver (Form FW-003).
If you do not either pay the fees, revise your request, or a request a hearing within 10 days, the court will cancel all of the papers you have filed in your case.
Step 6: Attend the Fee Waiver Hearing
If a hearing is scheduled on your fee waiver, be sure to bring any documents or witnesses you have that help prove your financial condition. If this hearing was scheduled at the court's request, the court may have indicated what proof you need on the Order on Court Fee Waiver (Form FW-003). Bring all documents the court requested.
After the hearing, the court will grant or deny your fee waiver request, and provide you with the ruling on form FW-008, Order on Court Fee Waiver After Hearing.
Step 7: If Your Request is Denied After a Hearing
If your request is denied, or if the court orders partial or installment payments, you must pay the required fees within ten days or the court will cancel all the papers you have filed in your case.
Step 8: During your case
If your financial situation improves during your case, you must inform the court within five days using FW-010, Notice to Court of Improved Financial Situation or Settlement. If the court believes that your financial situation has changed, you may receive a notice to attend a hearing to reconsider your fee waiver. The court will send you FW-011, Notice to Appear for Reconsideration of Fee Waiver, to notify you of the hearing date. In either of these situations, if the court determines that your improved financial situation allows you to afford court fees, you will be required to pay the previously waived fees.
Step 9: At the end of your case
If you receive a money judgment in your favor, the court may order you or the other party to pay the previously waived fees. If you settle your case out of court for $10,000 or more, the court will require you to pay any waived fees.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
On the Web
At the Law Library
California Forms of Pleading and Practice Chap. 174. KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Electronic Access: On the law library computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
How to Do Your Own Divorce in California In the "Kit" section of the CD.
KFC 126 .S54 (Self Help)
updated 2/13 mpj