How to File a Pauper's Affidavit

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A petitioner who cannot afford the costs associated with filing a case in court may apply for a fee waiver by submitting a pauper’s affidavit, also known as filing "in forma pauperis." Fees that may be waived include the fee for filing, service by a constable and publication, as well as costs to certify or photocopy documents. Eligibility is based on income, resources and the ability to pay. Recipients of public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), may qualify for a waiver of court costs.

Step 1

Obtain a blank affidavit through the clerk of the court in which the case will be filed.

Step 2

Complete the affidavit with the required information, including your name, earned and unearned income, housing and utility expenses and the value of any available resources, such as bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds, life insurance and property.

Step 3

Sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary public. You may be able to sign the affidavit in front of the clerk of court, depending on the specific rules of the court in which you are filing.

Step 4

Gather supporting documentation required to prove your inability to pay court costs, such as your most recent income tax return, paystubs or an award letter from TANF or SSI.

Step 5

Submit the notarized affidavit and copies of supporting documents to the clerk of the court. File the petition or complaint and other related documents necessary to initiate your case at the same time. If the fee waiver is denied, you will be notified and you will be required to pay the appropriate filing fee in order to proceed with your case.

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