Affidavit of Indigency

An affidavit of indigency (or affidavit of inability to pay court costs) is a document that is used when a person is unable to pay the court costs and wants to request waiving these costs from the court or having the state pay for them.

An affidavit of indigency form is provided by courts. Its main goal is to make the court know that you cannot afford paying the costs pertaining to your court case. If the affidavit is approved, it means you will not have to pay the specified court costs and fees.

Who Can File an Affidavit of Indigency?

According to federal laws, you might be able to avoid paying court costs if you have income lower than the level determined by the federal government. The situations where a court might cover your court costs and fees are:

  1. When you get financial aid under certain programs, for example, the state Medicaid program, Veterans Benefits Program, SSI, etc.
  2. When the household income of your family, deducting taxes, is less than 125% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines (this rate is reviewed annually).
  3. When your income is higher than the Federal Poverty Guidelines and paying court costs would result in you not having the ability to pay for fundamental needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. It can also be applied to situations when your dependents are at risk of being left with the necessities of life. If you fall under the last category, you might need to also fill in the Supplement to the affidavit of indigency.

What Costs Can Be Covered by the Affidavit?

An approved affidavit of indigency lets you cover all the costs related to your court case. These costs are generally divided into two categories: normal costs and extra fees. Among normal fees are filing fees, fees for making photo copies or issuing or certifying legal papers, fees for serving summons and publishing notices, appeal fees, etc. The category of extra fees includes costs of expertise and expert testimony, getting physical copies of the court case, etc.

However, lawyer services can not be covered by a court using an affidavit of indigency.

How to Ask the Court to Pay Your Court Fees

Fill out the affidavit of indigency

Once you have found the affidavit of indigency form on the website of your court or have decided to use a free fillable affidavit form on our website, you should carefully fill it in and finalize it by putting your signature.

File your affidavit

Next, you need to have your affidavit approved by the court. After you have proofread your affidavit, file the document with the clerk of the court. If you are requesting the waiver of your filing fee from the court, and you don’t have the affidavit approved yet, you should still be able to file the affidavit.

Please note that a court clerk might ask you to provide more financial evidence before they are able to approve your affidavit. For instance, if you are eligible for waiving court costs due to receiving financial aid under a certain program, you might need to provide documents that would prove that you get one of these benefits. Or if you refer to the category of those whose income is less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you should be ready to provide a pay stub or fill in more financial forms.

Wait for the approval

The court will determine whether or not you are eligible for having your fees waived and if yes, will approve your affidavit. In case there are any issues with your affidavit of indigency, your affidavit might be sent to a judge who will be considering the application within a certain period of time and might approve it without a hearing.

Attend the hearing

In case a judge has some questions regarding your affidavit, you will need to attend the hearing. Denial of the affidavit can only happen at a hearing, and it is your chance to explain to the judge your legitimate reason behind filing the affidavit of indigency.

What Should an Affidavit of Indigency Include?

State courts and federal courts use different forms of affidavit of indigency so you should carefully examine the website of the court where your case is being handled. Regardless of the format, an affidavit of indigency will contain the following information.

Step 1 — Court and case number

At the top of the affidavit of indigency, there should be the court and case number.

Step 2 — Name of the applicant and address

Next, you should include your name and address which should consist of street, city, state, and zip code.

Step 3 — Reason for not being able to pay court costs

The first section of the document should tell what you are indigent in. The form might offer several options for your choice, for instance, you are receiving public assistance under a certain aid program or you might check the box that is for people whose household income is below the governmental poverty guidelines. If you choose the second option, you will have to specify the amount of your income, periodicity of payments, and the number of dependents, if any.

Please note that you should first check with the current Federal Poverty Levels before making sure you are eligible for having your court costs paid by state.

Step 4 — Normal fees and costs that are requested to be waived

In the next section, you should specify what court fees and costs you would want to be waived by the court or paid by state. You might ask to pay for your filing fee, fees of serving court summons or other court papers, or other court costs.

Step 5 — Extra fees and costs

Further, specify whether you want to have the court pay for extra fees and costs related to the court proceeding. It might be the cost of expert services, getting copies of physical records of the court case, written transcripts, etc.

Step 6 — Declaration

The affidavit should include the statement about the applicant affirming under the penalties of perjury that what they have said is true.

Step 7 — Date and signature

At the end of the document, you should put your signature and the date of signing it.

Published: May 10, 2022