March 29, 2019

Court Price Hikes

Increases in Fees you will need to pay

Court fees and Court costs are not the same thing.

When you go to court, you often hear the words “court costs”.

These do not refer to what you have to pay to the court to get started in a court case. They refer to the money the judge can make you pay to the other person you are in court against if you are less successful in the case. Basically, it’s a loser-pay system. If you argue your case but you are unreasonable in the position you take, then brace yourself. Not only could you lose the case, you can lose money too.

What “court fees” are is something else entirely.

Court fees are what you have to pay to the court to get them to do something with your case. Unfortunately, court is not a free service.

You must pay them when you get certain documents issued and when you file them. It’s the money you pay at the court house when you have a document to start your case and take other steps. It does not matter if you have a lawyer, or you don’t have a lawyer. You need to pay these costs anyway.

Those prices have been quite stable for many years, but like all things, this too shall pass. And it will pass quickly. As in, April 1, 2019. Some hikes are fairly minor, but if you are asking for your case to be set to a hearing, the fee jumps substantially.

As of that date, here are a few of the new costs for family court:

Fee Type                                                    Current (old) Fees ($)                                     New Fees as of April 1, 2019 ($)

On filing an Application                               157                                                                              202

On filing an Answer (not in divorce)         125                                                                              161

On filing an Answer (in divorce)                157                                                                              202

Placing Application on list for hearing     280                                                                             420

Issue a Summons                                          19                                                                                31

Issue Divorce Certificate                             19                                                                                24

These are fees you pay to the court for doing things with documents, but the actual court is free. You do not pay for the judge, or the court reporter staff or the court security staff. That is covered by your tax dollars and in a small part by the fees to file and issue your documents.

If you are of low income, you can ask them to waive these fees. They will ask you for proof of your income and your assets. For example, if you are in a family of 3 and your total household income is less than $54,000 per year, and you have less than $10,500 in a net worth, then you will qualify under their new rules.


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