Court Fees and Getting Court Fees Paid

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Authored By: Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York


You may have to pay fees (money) in your court case.  The different types of fees are explained below.  If you cannot afford the court fees, you may be able to get them waived (which means set aside or forgiven) by the court.

What is a filing fee? 

A filing fee is the amount of money you must pay to the court to begin your court case.  The amount of money you have to pay depends on the court and the type of case.  You may have to pay other filing fees at certain times during your case.  The court clerk can give you a list of all the filing fees for your court case so you know the total cost.

Do all court cases require filing fees?

Filing fees are usually not required in domestic violence cases.  And, most courts do not require filing fees for family law cases such as child custody and child support. If you did not start the case, you do not have to pay filing fees.

Are there any other fees that I should expect to pay in my court case?

Each court is different, but other fees you may have to pay, even if you didn’t start the case, are:

  • Service fee– the amount of money you pay to the sheriff or process server to serve or deliver the papers to the other side in your case. 
  • Witness fee– if you subpoena or call a witness to testify at trial, you will have to pay the witness a fee.
  • Mediation fee– in some states, if you file a family law case that involves children, you may be charged a fee to have a mediator help you and the other parent of your child come to an agreement about your children.
  • Appeal fee– the amount of money you pay to appeal or to ask a higher court to review your case to determine if the previous judge made any mistakes. 

I cannot afford the court fees.  What can I do? 

Ask your lawyer about getting any court fees waived (set aside or forgiven).  If you do not have a lawyer, you can still call the local legal aid office to see if they can help you get any court fees waived or you can ask the judge to waive some or all of the court fees by filling out a form called a fee waiver request.  Each court has different rules, but you may be able to get some or all of the court fees waived if:

  • you are receiving public benefits such as welfare, Food Stamps, or SSI benefits; or
  • you do not have enough income to support your family and pay the court fees.

For More Information

Looking for more information on this topic? Visit and select your state to find other self-help resources and information about free and low-cost legal aid providers in your area.

About this Guide

This guide was created by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York in partnership with the New York LawHelp Consortium and Pro Bono Net, with support from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant program.

To read all of the guides in this series, visit


This guide was prepared for general information purposes only. The information it contains is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state to state. Some information in this guide may not be correct for your state. To find local resources, visit and select your state.

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Last Review and Update: Aug 04, 2022
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