Want to share what you like about MassLegalHelp with us?


What if the clerk denies my Affidavit of Indigency?

Produced by Merrimack Valley North-Shore Legal Services, Inc.
Reviewed September 2013

The Law

Massachusetts state law requires that if the Affidavit of Indigency appears regular and complete on its face, and indicates that you are eligible, the affidavit should be granted. See General Law Chapter 261 section 27(C)(2).

The Supreme Judicial Court’s Instructions

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued instructions to court clerks that say:

If you file an Affidavit of Indigency:

  • under Category A or B, and complete it correctly, the clerk should not ask you for more information or refer you to a judge.
  • under Category C, the clerk can approve it. The clerk only needs to send you to a judge if they have a serious question about whether you meet the standard under Category C.

You do not have to fill out a Supplement to the Affidavit form if you check Category A or B. You only have to complete the Supplement if you check Box C.

The clerk must file and date your court documents when you give them to the clerk.  If the clerk has a question and you need to see a judge to get the affidavit approved, the clerk must still file your papers on the day you give them to the clerk. The instructions say, “all papers offered for filing must be dated and accepted when they are first presented, and must be processed without delay.” “No papers may be rejected because the filer has not yet obtained waiver of the filing fee.”

See the the Supreme Judicial Court's memo and Instructions to Courts.

Produced by Merrimack Valley North-Shore Legal Services, Inc.
Created August 2013

If the clerk does not approve your Affidavit of Indigency, he or she must send it to the judge to decide.

The judge can:

  • approve your Affidavit of Indigency,
  • order that you pay a partial fee, or
  • order that you pay the entire fee.

If you disagree with the judge, you can appeal to the next court level.

There are short deadlines, so you must act quickly. Ask the clerk's office for information about how to appeal.

Find Legal Aid

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.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm