Contrary to what Jessie J sang in the song “Price Tag,” sometimes it is all about the “money, money, money.” Which is why you should know about court costs, cost, costs, the small fees which can add up to a lot: where they come from, how much they cost, and how you can get out of paying them.

What Are Court Costs?

Court costs encompass an assortment of different fees.

For example, they usually include filing fees (see image below) which is what it costs to file a notice of appeal. This is necessary to even begin the process of “going to court.” A more comprehensive breakdown of various filing fees associated with small claims cases can be found at this link at the bottom of page 3.

Filing Fees

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Additionally, court costs can also include the costs to:

  • hire a clerk and marshal
  • print and make copies of any necessary documents
  • compensate for court-appointed experts
  • hire interpreters
  • cover docket fees (for placing a case on a court’s docket or calendar)
  • pay for printed or electronically recorded transcripts, etc.

Because the courts often handle the logistical work of hiring specific people or booking courtrooms for specific dates, you may not be aware you have to pay for these small services until they hand you the bill.

However, these fees can represent a significant amount of money and can sometimes even exceed the monetary value of a case.

Why Should I Care about Court Costs?

Going to court is notoriously expensive. However, on top of fees like paying for a lawyer or legal consultant, both parties are also responsible for paying court costs, or law-costs.

Regardless if you’re the defendant or the plaintiff, you don’t want to lose any more of your money by paying unnecessary fees which won’t help you to win your case.

An easy way to save money, especially in small claims court, where the potential payout is significantly less than that of other civil cases, is to simply waive these court costs.

To review what small claims courts encompasses, click here.

Small claims cases can have settlements of up to $10,000. This may seem like a lot, but when you consider how much time goes into getting the necessary documents, going to court, waiting in long lines, meeting with legal consultants, it all adds up.

One way to avoid wasting your time and resources is to click here and arrange to have us file your forms and wait in line for you. We will do pretty much everything but show up in court for you. Another way is to waive your court costs. After all, why pay additional fees if you don’t need to?

How Can I Get Out of Paying Court Costs?

In order to get out of paying court costs, you must file a fee waiver request.

In order to qualify for a fee waiver, you must:

  • receive public benefits (like Medi-Cal, food stamps, General Assistance, etc.),
  • have a household income less than the amount stated on the “Request to Waive Court Fees” Form (click here and look in item 5b), or
  • be unable to pay for your household’s basic needs and your court fees (as determined by the court).

Request forms can be found on here. For additional fee waivers, click here. If your request is rejected, you will have 10 days to file an appeal or be forced to pay your court costs. To learn how to appeal a fee waiver request denial, click here.

Is It Really Worth It?

While Top 40 pop songs may tell you differently, money really does matter. That’s why it really is worth it to know where your money is going, whether it’s to overpriced legal consultants or unknown court costs. By understanding the various financial burdens of going to court, you ensure that not only is your case being treated fairly, but your wallet is too.

To learn more about what to expect in a small claims trial, click here.

The Help When You Need It

Any time that you need help with your small claims case, reach out to us via LiveChat, on the phone at 1-888-SUE-YA-88.  Most clients successfully complete their small claims paperwork without issue.

Works Cited

“Basics.” Basics – Small_claims_selfhelp. 2017 Judicial Council of California, n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2017.

“Fee Waivers.” Fee Waivers – Getting_started_selfhelp. 2017 Judicial Council of California, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.