Court Fee Waiver Form

FAQs - What you need to know and prepare to begin the Virginia Civil Court Fee Waiver Request Self-help Tool

The “Petition for Proceeding in Civil Case Without Payment of Fees or Costs” is a form that allows a person who has little income (or who has very high expenses) to ask a Virginia court to “waive” (which means “not require”) the fees associated with civil court actions. The form may also be informally called a “fee waiver request form” or an “in forma pauperis form” (in forma pauperis is a Latin legal term meaning to proceed as a poor person).


A “civil case” means any type of legal action before a court that is not a criminal matter. It can be a lawsuit, a tenant’s assertion and complaint against a landlord, or a family law matter, among other things. The fees and costs may include filing fees, fees to serve papers on a party, or costs of transcriptions. This page has some information about various types and amounts of court fees in Virginia:


Is this self-help tool the one I need for my case?

Some types of family law matters require a special fee waiver request form. If yours is one of these matters, you will need to use one of the two forms below rather than this Civil Court Fee Waiver Tool:


Before you start:

This online self-help tool works by asking a series of questions about you and your situation. Read the below carefully so you know what documentation you need before getting started.


After you complete all the questions, the tool will automatically create your form, which you may then take to the court. If -- at any point during the questions -- you realize you need additional information you may save your answers (to save them, you must first create a free account). You may then come back and finish when you are ready, and print the form to take to the court.


Note: if you create an account and save your answers online, you may come back in the future to correct or update your answers if your circumstances change.

When you submit this petition form, the court will consider whether you qualify based on the information you provide, and if you do, allow you to continue with your case without paying the fees and costs. It doesn’t matter whether you are the “plaintiff” (person bringing the case) or the “defendant” (person who must respond to the case the plaintiff has brought): either party may request their fees be waived.

  1. Qualification based on receipt of public assistance: If you receive public assistance, the court should approve your request because in most cases, public assistance is meant to help those whose incomes are below 125% of the poverty guidelines (see below). However, this is not always the case, so the court requires the rest of the form be filled out.


  1. Qualification based on income and assets: Courts should grant your request to have your fees and costs waived if your income is below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level guidelines. These guidelines are based on household income and how many people are in that household.
    • You must indicate your pay period (ie weekly, every second week, twice monthly, monthly)
    • BUT
    • Provide your annual net income


  1. It may be difficult to determine your annual net income if your pay check varies significantly from pay period to pay period.


      • If your income didn’t change much from the previous year, you may look at your previous year’s tax return or W2 form.
      • You may look at your pay stubs to determine your net income per pay period, then multiply that by the number of pay periods in a year.
      • You may be able to ask your employer to provide you with your annual net income based on your current rate of pay.
      • If you are self-employed, or work multiple jobs with varying hours, you may make an estimate of your annual income, then attach a statement explaining the estimate and how you arrived at it. Include any documentation including previous years’ tax returns, 1099s, or other proofs of income.
  1. If you have other sources of income, have the information available about these as you will be asked about it during the online interview.


NOTE regarding child support: if you receive child support, this is not considered income, as it is money paid to support your child, not you, so do not include it. If you pay child support, this may be considered an exceptional expense, so have information about the amount and how you pay your child support handy.


    • To determine if you will qualify based on income, compare your household income to the numbers shown below (for your household size). For 2019, the poverty guidelines (multiplied by 125%), are:






















    • If you have substantial assets, such as a large amount of savings, the court may decide you don’t qualify even if your income is less than shown above. The court requires information about the amount of cash you have on hand and in your bank accounts, and the net value of the property you own.


-->Net value means the resale value of property, minus the amount of money you may owe on that item. If the net value is zero (ie, you owe more than the property is worth), attach an explanation regarding your debt on that property.

      • Motor Vehicles: If you are still paying off a vehicle, or if you used the vehicle for collateral for a personal loan and the lender holds your car title, then the net value is the difference between the current sale value and how much you need to pay to get your car title. Use Kelly Blue Book, or NADA ( to figure out the sale value.
        Note: some motor vehicles are exempt from “attachment” (being sold to pay your debts). If a vehicle is necessary for use in the course of your occupation (including attending school) and is worth less than $10,000, OR any vehicle you own is worth less than $6,000, it should not be considered as part of your assets. You will need to calculate the net value and provide it so the court can determine if the value of your vehicle should be considered or not.
      • Real estate: If you owe a mortgage on your property, or if there are liens on your property, the net value is the difference between the sale value of the property and the mortgage and/or liens. To find the value of your property, use your tax assessment (you can check your city or county government website, which should list properties and their tax assessments if you don’t have a copy).
      • Mobile homes may or may not be real estate: if you own your mobile home and the property on which it is located, your mobile home may be considered real estate. If so, use your tax assessment as above. To determine if the mobile home on your land is real estate:

If your mobile home is not considered real estate, then it is considered personal property and should not be listed with real estate. It may be difficult to determine the value based on their size, condition, and other factors. Make your best guess based on what other mobile homes of similar size and age in your area may be selling for (check Craigslist, for example), and include an attachment to your petition that includes the age, size, and condition of your home, as well as any amounts still owed on the purchase, or any liens on the home.

Note: a mobile home in which you live that is personal property AND worth less than $5,000 (or $10,000 for someone over age 65) is “exempt from attachment,” which means it cannot be taken and sold to cover your debts. You do NOT need to list personal property exempt from attachment.


      • Other personal property: it may be more difficult to determine the value of other personal property. You must make as accurate a guess as you can. has some guides to values of property including motorcycles, RVs, ATVs, skidoos, and boats.


        • Exceptions: Some personal property is “exempt from attachment,” which means it cannot be taken and sold to cover your debts. You do not need to list personal property that is exempt from attachment. This page explains all property that is exempt from attachment:


3.  Qualification based on exceptional expenses: If your household has exceptional expenses, you may still qualify even if the income for your family is greater than the amounts shown above, or you have significant assets. While it should have been easy to answer the questions about court-ordered child or spousal support or alimony, and child care, the following may need additional documentation to attach to your petition:

  1. Medical expenses: the form asks that you fill in the blank if you have “unusual and continuing expenses.” Because no line is provided on which you can explain the period of time for paying “continuing expenses,” you should explain the circumstances on a separate piece of paper: include information such as the total amount you must pay, and the time period in which you must pay it. Unusual and continuing medical expenses may include:
    • Medical treatment for which you are paying regularly, including expensive medications or equipment, and for which you are not reimbursed by insurance, including dental and mental health treatment.
    • Very expensive health insurance premiums you pay out of pocket. (An amount that your employer deducts to pay for additional family members’ coverage would most likely not be “unusual” unless it was very high.)
    • Medical debts you are paying.

      Examples: “I owe the hospital $34,000 and make a $500 payment each month”

                        “I must pay for insulin out of my own pocket at a cost of $400 per month”

“I pay health insurance premiums of $1,000 per month to cover myself and my family.”

  1. Other: if the blank for the “other” category is not long enough for your explanation, write a paragraph or two about these and attach.

Once you print out the fee waiver petition form, and bring it to court, you will sign it and give it to the clerk for the judge to consider. When you do this, you are certifying that it is true, under penalty of perjury. Double-check all your answers before you bring it to court!


NOTE: You cannot file this document online. The court must receive a signed paper copy.

Back to top