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This content was last updated on 2/13/2024

What is a filing fee?

A filing fee is the amount of money you must pay to the court to begin your court case. The amount of money you have to pay depends on the court and the type of case.

What can I do if I need to file a court case and cannot afford to pay the filing fee?

If you have a lawyer, ask them about getting the filing fees waived.  If you do not have a lawyer and are going to file a case by yourself, you can ask the court to waive the filing fee.

Who can get a filing fee waived?

You must live in Kentucky and you must have low or limited income.

How low or limited does my income have to be?

There are 2 ways to show your income is limited or low.

(1)  Your monthly income for you and your family must be at or below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines. You can find the 2023 numbers here:  Use the chart to determine what the monthly income level must be to qualify to have your filing fee waived.

(2) Your monthly income before taxes is taken out is so low that you would not be able to pay for rent/mortgage, food, utilities (electric, gas, water, sanitation) and medical care for you and your family if you had to pay the filing fee.

What kinds of filing fees can be waived?

You can ask the court to waive filing in most civil cases.  A civil case is a case in which private citizens (or companies) sue each other in court.  Civil cases are not about breaking a criminal law.

 There are different kinds of cases in civil court.  For example:

  • Family law cases, such as divorce/dissolution of marriage, child custody and child support
  • Small claims cases, which are between individuals or companies for $2,500 of less and where no one has a lawyer
  • General civil cases, usually involving suing someone for money in disputes over things like contracts, damage to property or someone getting hurt.
  • Probate cases
  • Landlord/tenant cases
How do I ask the court to waive a filing fee?

You must file a form called Motion for Waiver of Costs and Fee and to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and an affidavit (a sworn statement) about your monthly income and expenses.  Once you have filled in all the information on the form, you must sign it in front of a notary public so and swear that the information is true and correct.

You will then take the signed motion, affidavit and the petition or complaint that you have prepared to file your case to the circuit clerk’s office in the county where you are filing.  Give the documents to the Clerk.

What happens after I file the motion to waive the filing fee?

The Clerk will give the motion to the Judge that has your case.  The Judge will make a decision about whether to waiver your filing fee.  You will be sent a written notice about whether the filing fee was waived.

What happens if the Judge denies the motion to waive my filing fees?

You should get a notice telling you the waiver was denied.  You then have 30 days to pay the filing fee.  Your case will not go forward until you pay the filing fee.

How can I find this form?

A guided interview to help you file your motion to waive a filing fee can be found here:


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