This is general information about asking for a fee waiver. If you want advice about your particular case, you should contact a lawyer.
Who might qualify for a fee waiver?
You may qualify for a fee waiver if:
- You get certain government benefits, like WV Works or SSI;
- You do not make very much money, especially after taxes;
- You have a lot of high expenses; or
- You don’t own a lot of personal property (cars, ATV’s, boats) or real estate (houses, land, lots).
Read more about the Financial Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for a Fee Wavier.
How do I apply for a fee waiver?
You need to fill out a form called the “Financial Affidavit and Application: Eligibility for Waiver of Fees, Costs or Security in a Civil or Domestic Case”.
Where can I get the fee waiver application?
You can get the Financial Affidavit and Application from the Magistrate Clerk or Circuit Clerk’s office. You can also get the form from the West Virginia Supreme Court’s website. You can fill the form out on the web page and then print it.
What information do I need to put in the form?
To fill out the form you will need information about your income, your bills, and things you own. It is a good idea to look at the form before you fill it out and then gather any information you need that you do not have. Be honest when you fill out the form. The form is a sworn statement and lying on it is perjury.
You will need to provide a copy of your most recent pay stub or other statement of your income, including social security, food stamps, and child support. If someone is supporting you or giving you money you may need to get a written statement from that person explaining how much financial support they are giving you. You should black out your social security number and birth date if they are on your pay stub or income statement. You must have this pay stub or other income statement or the clerk will tell you the form is incomplete.
Do not sign the form when you fill it out. It must be signed in front of a notary or court clerk.
What if I have no income?
If you have no income there is place on the form to explain that. However, you will be asked to provide documents that confirm you have no income, like letters from DHHR with the amount of food stamps you are getting.
Can I get help to fill out the application?
The Clerks can’t give you legal advice about your specific case, but they may be able to answer questions about the form. You may also contact Legal Aid of West Virginia or these other legal resources.
What do I do with my completed application?
Take the complete, but unsigned form, to the court clerk where you want to file your case. You will also need to take your pay stub or other income documentation. You will then sign it in front of the clerk. You should also have the other paperwork you need for your case ready to file. You should ask the clerk for a copy of your completed application.
What happens after I give my application to the clerk?
The clerk will check to see if you qualify for the fee waiver. If the clerk says you need to provide more information, you should give the clerk that information. The clerk will then approve or deny your application.
If you are approved, but your income goes up during your case, you must make the court aware of the change.
What if I was denied a fee waiver?
If think the clerk has made a mistake you can ask for his or her decision to be reviewed by a judge. You will need to fill out a separate form called a “Motion to Review” to request that. This form is also available in the clerk’s office where you filed your case. You can also find it on the West Virginia Supreme Court website here.