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What if I cannot afford the cost of going to court?

Produced by Northeast Legal Aid
Reviewed July 2023

If you need to go to court, but you cannot afford the fees and charges, you may not have to pay them. The court can “waive” the fees, or ask the state to pay the normal court fees.

The court can also waive or ask the state to pay for “extra” fees.

You must fill out a form called an Affidavit of Indigency. This form tells the court you cannot afford the fees related to your case.

If the clerk or a judge approves the form, you will not have to pay.

You can get an Affidavit of Indigency and the Supplement to the Affidavit of Indigency at any courthouse or online.

The Affidavit of Indigency Guide and File program helps you fill out the form by asking you questions. After you answer all the questions, the program will generate a completed form that you can then file with the court.

Federal courts do not use this form because they have different rules.


The court will not pay for your lawyer. Visit the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder to search for free or low-cost legal aid.

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You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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