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Basics on Fee Waivers
What is a Fee Waiver (In Forma Pauperis)
There is usually a fee to file documents with the court. If you have a low income and cannot afford to pay the fee, you can ask the court for a waiver. A court fee waiver is often called an "IFP" which stands for "in forma pauperis."
You may qualify to file for a waiver if your income is at or below 125% of the Federal poverty level; if you receive public assistance; OR if you can show that you do not have enough money to pay the filing fee. The judge can waive all or part of the court fees in a case, and the waiver only applies to costs specifically stated in the IFP Order. NOTE: Getting a fee waiver does not mean you will never have to pay any costs or a judgment in the case.
How to Request a Fee Waiver (IFP)
These are the steps to ask for a fee waiver in District Court. If you are handling a case at the MN Court of Appeals, please visit the MN Court of Appeals Self-Help Center to learn about fee waivers in the Appellate Courts.
STEP 1: Get the IFP forms
Before you can request a fee waiver, you must first complete the documents for the legal action you want to file (and make copies of your legal documents). Then, fill out the fee waiver forms and bring them to court along with the legal documents you want to file.
You can download the Fee Waiver Court Forms from this website or get them at the courthouse.
STEP 2: Fill out the forms
Fill out the fee waiver forms, but do not sign them yet! Make copies of all of the legal documents you plan to file with the court.
STEP 3: Take the forms to court
Take these things to the courthouse:
- Your completed "Affidavit for In Forma Pauperis" -- do not sign it yet!
- The documents (original and copies) for your legal action that you need to file (Petition, Complaint, Motion, Answer, etc.);
- Photo I.D., such as a driver's license or passport;
- Proof of your financial need, such as your paycheck, tax return, or other proof;
- Proof of public assistance (if you receive it), such as an MFIP card, canceled check from a government agency or other proof.
STEP 4: Get signature notarized
Your signature on the Affidavit for IFP must be notarized. We suggest that you bring your documents to Court Administration and they can notarize your signature, or you can bring them to a Notary Public. Remember that you must sign your documents in front of the person who notarizes your signature, and then they sign and stamp the documents. IMPORTANT: An affidavit is a sworn statement under oath, so you must tell the truth in it. If you do not tell the truth, the court can fine you.
STEP 5: Judge reviews fee waiver request
Your court will tell you the procedures for having a judge review your IFP request. Procedures may be different from one court to another.
STEP 6: Order for IFP granted or denied
If the judge does not grant your IFP request, you will have to pay the court fee. If the judge does grant your IFP request, he or she will sign an IFP Order that waives all or part of the filing fee. Keep your copy of the IFP Order in a safe place until you are ready to file your legal documents
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