Ask the Court to Waive Your Filing Fee
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
A Washington Forms Online interview. Self-help court forms and instructions on LawHelp Interactive. Use this if you cannot afford to pay the filing fee to start a new case. A judge will look at your financial information and decide if you qualify for a waiver under Washington Courts' General Rule 34.
What will this interview do? +
This free program asks questions and uses your answers to complete your forms. When you finish the interview, you can save, edit, email, download or print your completed forms. You will also get instructions to help with your next steps.
Watch our How-To Video to see how it works.
What forms will I get? +
- Motion for Waiver and Financial Statement (GR 34.0100 and .0300)
- Order re Waiver (Proposed) (GR 34.0500)
You can use this interview for all types of civil cases except for habeas corpus petitions and domestic violence protection order petitions (DVPOs). It is free to file those type cases, so you do not need a waiver.
Who can get a fee waiver? +
General Rule 34 says the court must not charge a filing fee or other mandatory fees to people who are indigent and who apply for a waiver. The court will find you indigent if any of these is true:
- You get certain public benefits (TANF, HEN, SSI, Food Stamps, or federal poverty-related veteran's benefits)
- Your income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Your large regular basic living expenses keep you from paying the filing fee and other required charges. "Basic living expenses" means the average monthly amount you spend for living costs such as shelter, food, utilities, health care, transportation, clothing, loan payments, support payments, and court-imposed obligations. RCW 10.101.010(4)(d).
What fees are waived? +
Most people must pay a filing fee ranging from $36 to $320 to start, for example, a family law case. If the court gives you a fee waiver under General Rule 34, you do not have to pay the filing fee.
You also do not have to pay any other fees that are "a condition precedent to securing access to judicial relief" (required). These include but are not limited to:
- Family Court facilitator filing fee surcharge
- Judicial Trust Account filing fee surcharge
- Domestic violence prevention filing fee surcharges
- Mandatory family law orientation class fee
- Fees for any mandatory review by a Family Law Facilitator before presenting final orders
- Any ex parte presentation fee
The court must waive any required fee. The state Supreme Court in Jafar v. Webb
What fees are not waived? +
Fees for optional services are probably NOT waivable. These include but are not limited to:
- Fees for meetings you choose to have with the Family Law Facilitator
- Deposition fees
- Cost of copies
- Cost of mediation
- Guardian ad Litem (GAL) fees
Before You Start
What do I need before I start? +
You will need financial information for your household to fill out the fee waiver forms. We will ask how much money you make from work or get in benefits, and what your regular living expenses are. Expenses can include food, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, child care, car payments, insurance, and others.
It could take 10 to 30 minutes to get through the interview. If you don't have enough time to finish, save your answers by creating a free account with LawHelp Interactive. You can create an account before you start or after you finish the interview.
What does my computer need? +
This interview works best on a desktop computer, laptop, or large tablet. If you only have a mobile device, go to a library or other location with a desktop computer and printer. You must print your forms to file them in court.
Your documents will download as .RTF files (rich text format). They can be opened in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Pages, Word Pad, and other word processors. You can email your forms directly from LawHelp Interactive to yourself or someone else who can print them for you.