When you file a divorce petition, you are asked to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford to pay it, you may be able to waive the fee by completing an affidavit called an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs, or as it is known in many states, an Affidavit of Indigency. If it's granted, your request affects only the filing costs, and not the overall costs of divorce itself. The financial requirements for filing an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs and receiving the waiver vary among states.
Divorce Filing Fees
Filing fees for divorce vary among states, but at the time of publication these fees typically fall within the ballpark of $150 to $300 or more, depending on where you live and whether you and your spouse have children. Many states also require you to arrange service of process for the divorce filing, which provides your spouse with notice of the divorce and gives him an opportunity to respond. Depending on whether your state requires you to use a private process server or have the local sheriff serve the paperwork, this may add an additional $50 to $200 to your filing fees.
Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs
If you cannot pay for your filing fees, request a copy of the appropriate form from the court clerk. You must provide information about yourself, such as your birth date and contact information. The court also typically wants information about who lives with you, your income and assets, your monthly expenses, and whether you are currently on any form of state or federal aid. This information gives the court some idea of your ability to pay. You must typically sign the document, attesting to the fact that all of the information is true.
Filing the Affidavit
You submit your completed affidavit to the court clerk at the courthouse where you are filing for divorce. The court clerk will either accept your affidavit and waive the filing fee or present your affidavit to a judge who will determine whether you qualify for a waiver. In addition, depending on your state’s procedures, you may need to appear before a judge to discuss your affidavit.
If you qualify, the court may waive the filing fee for divorce and any service of process fees. Some states may not waive the fees, but rather defer them to a later date or allow you to set up a payment plan to cover the cost of filing for divorce. In many states, to be eligible for a waiver of filing fees, you must use public assistance or your income must be less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline.