Can't Afford to Pay Court Filing Fees?
You must “prepay” court filing fees up front, before the court can open your case. If you are unable to pay the court filing fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees at the beginning of the case. Submit your request with the complaint or other documents you intend to file. The court will base its decision on the MLSC Client Income Eligibility Guidelines. If the court grants your request, the court will accept the filing and begin your case
This waiver just removes the requirement that you pay the fees “up front.” You will have to pay the court fees at the end of the case, unless the court requires the other party to pay those fees and other costs. If you are required to pay fees and costs at the end of the case, you may ask the court for a final waiver of costs at that time.
Note: If you are represented by a lawyer, please consult with your attorney. Different procedures apply if you are represented by a lawyer with one of Maryland’s civil legal aid organizations.
Follow these steps to ask the court to waive the requirement that you pay the fees “up front.”
- Prepare your complaint or other documents you need to file to start your case.
- Complete the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs.
- File your documents, including the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs, with the clerk’s office in the proper court. No fee is required at this time.
- The judge will review your request and decide whether or not to grant you the waiver. A copy of the judge’s order will be mailed to you.
- If the request is GRANTED, the clerk’s office will accept your filing and begin the case.
- If the request is DENIED, follow the instructions on the order to pay the fee so your case can begin. You have 10 days to pay the fee. If you do not pay the fee as required, your case will be considered to have been withdrawn and no further action will be taken by the court.
At the conclusion of the case, the judge will decide whether you or the other person should pay the court costs, including fees. If the judge orders you to pay some or all of the costs, and you cannot afford to pay, you may ask the court for a final waiver of costs at that time.
- Complete the Request for Final Waiver of Open Costs.
- Provide a copy of the request to the opposing party or that person’s lawyer.
- File the Request for Final Waiver of Open Costs with the clerk. You may be able to submit the request in open court on the day of your hearing.
- The judge will rule on your request and issue an order. If the ruling is not made in open court, a copy of the order will be mailed to you.
Appeal Costs Waiver
If you choose to appeal your case and believe you cannot afford to pay the costs of filing for an appeal, you can request the requirement that these costs be prepaid be waived as well. You must prepare two separate forms, both of which are submitted to the trial court when you note (file) your appeal.
- Complete the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs for Assembling the Record for an Appeal.
- Complete the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Appellate Costs.
- Submit BOTH documents to the trial court – the court that heard your original case.
- The trial court will decide the first request, then send the paperwork to the court hearing the appeal. That court will decide the second request.
- A copy of both orders will be sent to you.
- If your request is denied, in whole or in part, you must pay the unwaived portion of the costs within 10 days of the date of the order.
Note: The forms permit you to request a waiver of the costs of preparing the transcript, an essential part of the appeal process, in the District Court only. If your original case was heard in Circuit Court, the court cannot waive the transcript costs. You will need to pay for the costs of preparing the transcripts in those cases yourself, in order for your case to proceed.
Last Updated: April 2018