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Court Fees & Fee Waivers

Court Basics

This article tells you about court fees and fee waivers. FEE WAIVER FORM INCLUDED.

Texas Fee Waiver Form

Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs or an Appeal Bond

Click the link below an Online Guided version of this form.

Guided Form - Click Here

NOTE: Do not use the above form if you have a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Get the Chapter 7 bankruptcy fee waiver form and additional information here: What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

How much will it cost to file my case?

When you file a court case, you must usually pay a “filing fee.” There may be other court fees depending on your case. For example, you may need to pay for copies or pay to have the other side served with court papers. If a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs is approved, you do not have to pay for any costs charged by the court. This includes costs for issuance of service and copies.

Court fees vary by county. Contact the district clerk’s office in the county where you plan to file your court papers to learn the fees for your case.

What if I can’t afford to pay the court fees?

If you don’t have enough money to pay the court fees, you can ask a judge to waive the fees.

Your fees should be waived if you can prove that any of the following are true:

  • You get government benefits because you are poor (for example, food stamps, TANF, Medicaid, SSI or public housing).
  • You are represented by a free lawyer through a legal aid provider.
  • You applied for a lawyer through a legal aid provider and were financially eligible for legal aid services, but the legal aid provider could not take your case.
  • You do not have enough money to pay for your household’s basic needs and the court fees.

Read the law here: Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 145

How do I ask the judge to waive my court fees?

You can ask a judge to waive your court fees by:

 

  1. File the Statement form below, or
  2. File another sworn document containing the same information found in the Statement form. You will want to do this if you have privacy concerns and do not want to list your address. The document you file must be signed before a notary public.

This form tells the judge you cannot afford to pay the court fees. Fill it out completely in blue or black ink and sign it. Do NOT leave blanks.

You must include complete and accurate information about:

  • any government benefits you get because you are poor;
  • your household income after taxes;
  • the people who depend on you for financial support; and
  • your expenses.

Attachments: If you get government benefits because you are poor, attach proof (such as a copy of an eligibility form or check) to your Statement.

If you want the judge to consider other facts, such as unusual medical expenses or family emergencies, attach a separate page with that information. Write “Exhibit: Additional Supporting Facts” at the top of the page.

Your Address: This form asks for your address. The other side may get a copy of this form. If you are worried about the other side knowing your address, you can submit a sworn document that does not list your address instead of this form (see option 2 above). Call the Family Violence Legal Line at 1-800-374-4673 for free advice.

Warning! When you sign this form you are stating under penalty of perjury that the information in the form is true and correct. This means that it is a crime to lie on this form.

Turn in your completed Statement or sworn document at the clerk’s office when you file your other court forms.

What happens after I turn in my Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs?

The clerk will review your Statement. The clerk may use the Federal Poverty Guidelines as a guide. If the clerk does not think you qualify for a fee waiver, the clerk will file a “contest” to ask a judge to decide. The other side could also file a contest.

If no one files a contest, the fees are waived.

If my court costs are waived what does this include?

If your courts costs are waived you do not have to pay for "any fee charged by the court or an officer of the court, including, but not limited to,

  • filing fees,
  • fees for issuance and service of process,
  • fees for copies,
  • fees for a court-appointed professional, and
  • fees charged by the clerk or court reporter for preparation of the appellate record."

See Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 145(a)

If the clerk files a contest will I have to wait to file my case?

No. The clerk must still let you file your case and have the other side served without making you pay.

You are not required to pay fees until (1) there is a hearing (you must be given 10 days' notice of the hearing) and (2) there is evidence presented and the court finds that you can afford to pay costs.

See Rule 145(f) Notice; Hearing; Requirements of Order

What happens if a contest is filed?

If your Statement is contested, you must return to the courthouse for a hearing. You must bring proof of your income (such as a copy of your paystub) and proof of your expenses to the hearing. You must also bring proof of any government benefits you get.

At the hearing, a judge will review your evidence and listen to your testimony. The judge will then decide if you can afford to pay the court fees.

2021 Federal Poverty Guidelines

2021 Federal Poverty Guidelines

 

Number of people in your household (include yourself)

125% of Poverty Guidelines
Yearly Income

125% of Poverty Guidelines
Monthly Income

125% of Poverty Guidelines
Weekly Income

1

$16,100

$1,341.67

$309.62

2

$21,775

$1,814.58

$418.75

3

$27,450

$2,287.50

$527.88

4

$33,125

$2,760.42

$637.02

5

$38,800

$3,233.33

$746.15

6

$44,475

$3,706.25

$855.29

7

$50,150

$4,179.17

$964.42

8

$55,825

$4,652.08

$1,073.56

More than 8

Add $5,675
for each additional person

Add $472.92 for each additional person

Add $109.13 for each additional person

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (at 100%), January 13, 2021, https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

Note: Your income includes any household income you can use. Do not include your spouse’s income if it is not available to you.