Your Family Law Case: If You Cannot Afford the GAL Fee

Before requiring you to pay GAL fees, the court should consider your ability to pay. If believe you cannot afford this fee, you can file a motion with the court asking that the fee get paid another way. You must prove you are unable to pay this fee. This packet provides instructions and forms to help you make this request to the court. Publication #3117EN

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.
  • You can find all the fact sheets we link to here at

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

GALs require payment for their services. You might have to pay the GAL upfront before the GAL will start working on your case. This payment is called a retainer. The cost of a GAL can be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 or even higher.

Before requiring you to pay GAL fees, the judge should consider if you are able to pay. If you believe you cannot afford this fee, you can file a motion asking for a court order that does one of these:

  • Requires the other side to pay the fee.
  • Requires the county to pay the fee.
  • Orders payment of the GAL fee based on the parties’ ability to pay.
  • Excusing you from having to pay for (“waiving the fee for”) a GAL.

You must prove you cannot pay this fee. You should qualify for a GAL fee waiver if at least one of these is true:

  • The court waived your filing fee.
  • You get any public assistance such as TANF, SSI, food stamps, and/or ABD benefits.
  • Your household income is below 125% of the federal poverty level.
  • You have exceptional financial circumstances.

You should ask the judge to divide the GAL costs according to the percentage each party pays for child support or according to each party's ability to pay.

You need all of these:

  • Notice of Hearing (Your county may use a different form. Get a copy of your county’s Note from the court clerk or courthouse facilitator)
  • Motion and Declaration for Waiver of GAL Fee
  • Order Waiving GAL Fee
  • You must go to court at the time and on the date you stated in your Notice of Hearing or Note for Motion Docket.

When they call your case, go in front of the judge. Ask the judge to waive your GAL fee. You must tell the judge:

  • Why you cannot afford the GAL fee
  • You believe you do not have enough income to pay for a GAL
  • About any public assistance you get – what kind and how much
  • If you did not have to pay a filing fee at the start of your case
  • If you have a GR 34 fee waiver order - give the judge a copy

The judge will ask the other party about their ability to pay the GAL fee and then make a decision. It is best to get the judge to sign an order detailing the judge’s decision on your request.

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Last Review and Update: Dec 03, 2021
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