During an appeal there are fees in both the trial court and the Court of Appeal.
If you want to have fees waived in both courts, you must have a fee waiver in both courts. That’s because a trial court cannot waive fees in the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal cannot waive fees in the trial court.
Fill out a Request to Waive Court Fees form FW-001 online
Learn more about how to qualify and what fees can be waived
Watch a video or read instructions about how to fill out the fee waiver form
Read the California Court’s information sheet on fee waivers
If you still have questions, you can contact your court for more information.
Select an option to get specific fee waiver filing instructions
I am the appellant
I am a respondent
Important note about fee waivers: A request for a fee waiver is signed under penalty of perjury. You must tell the truth on a fee waiver application and your answers must be complete. You may be ordered to go to court to answer questions about your ability to pay court fees and costs, and to provide proof of your eligibility. If you do not tell the truth, the court can penalize you.
Who files this form? Both the appellant and the respondent can ask the trial court and Court of Appeal to waive their court fees if they cannot afford to pay. This form is not served to other parties. It is only filed with the court.
Where do I get this form? The Request to Waive Court Fees form FW-001 is available at the court or online.
What’s the deadline? The Court of Appeal and trial court require each party to file the Request to Waive Court Fees form at different times.
Who qualifies for a fee waiver? There are 3 ways to qualify for a fee waiver:
- if you are receiving public benefits like Medi-Cal, Food Stamps (CalFresh), Cal-Works, General Assistance, SSI, SSP, Tribal TANF, IHHS, or CAPI
- if your household income (before taxes) is less than the amounts listed on form FW-001 in item 5b
- if the court finds that you do not have enough income to pay for basic household needs and the court fees
Are all the court fees waived? It depends. During an appeal, there are fees in both the trial court and the Court of Appeal.
- In the trial court, some fees are always waived if you have a fee waiver. There are other fees that the court decides whether or not to waive based on the financial situation of the applicant. Generally there is a fee for the reporter’s transcript. That’s because a court reporter does not work for the court. A court reporter works for an independent business with permission to work in the court.
- In the Court of Appeal, there is a one-time filing fee for the appellant for each notice of appeal filed, and a one-time filing fee for the respondent. If the Court of Appeal approves your request for a fee waiver, then you will not have to pay a fee in the Court of Appeal. If the Court of Appeal does not approve your request for a fee waiver, then you will have to pay a one-time filing fee.
What happens if I don’t pay my filing fees?
If you do not pay the filing fees or if your check bounces, the court will send a notice giving you a deadline to pay the fees or have them waived.
If you are the appellant and you do not pay the filing fees or ask for a fee waiver by the deadline, the court may dismiss the appeal.
If you are the respondent and you do not pay the filing fees or ask for a fee waiver by the deadline, the court may not accept your brief. If that happens, the court will make a decision based on the appellant’s opening brief, the record on appeal, the law, and the appellant’s oral argument (if they present one to the court).
What happens if my fee waiver is denied? The court does not automatically approve a fee waiver application. The court can deny a fee waiver because it finds a person is not eligible, or because the application is not complete.
If you apply for a fee waiver but the court denies the request, the court will send a notice giving you a deadline to pay the filing fees.
If your fee waiver application is denied, the court will give you a reason. Sometimes the court will ask you to submit a new application with more information.
Be sure to give the court all the information it asks for and meet all deadlines the court gives you. If you are the appellant and you do not do what the court says, your appeal can be dismissed.
What if my financial situation changes? If your financial situation improves during the time you have a fee waiver, and you can afford to pay the court fees, you must tell the court within 5 days. Fill out a Notice to Court of Improved Financial Situation or Settlement form FW-010 and file it with the clerk of the court handling your case.
If the court believes that your financial situation has improved, you may get a Notice to Appear for Reconsideration of Fee Waiver form FW-011. This is a notice from the court to go to a hearing to reconsider your fee waiver. You must go to this court date. If you do not go, your fee waiver may be canceled and you may have to repay fees that were waived.
Will I ever have to pay back waived fees? There are two situations when the court would ask you to pay back waived court fees:
- If your financial situation improves during your case, the court may order you to pay back any fees that were waived after your eligibility ended.
- If the trial court waived your fees in a civil case and you settle with the other side for $10,000 or more, you may have to pay any waived fees. The court will put a lien on your settlement to pay these fees. And the court will not dismiss the case until the fees have been paid.