There are occasions when a party wants or needs to file a Petition to initiate a family law case, but cannot afford the filing fee to do so. Fortunately, the State of Georgia allows that person to file a Poverty Affidavit, requesting the court to relieve him/her of paying the filing fee. In order to be successful on this request, a person must truly be unable (not just unwilling) to pay the filing fee. OCGA §9-15-2(a).
The Poverty Affidavit is a sworn statement that you are unable to afford the filing fee, and must include your monthly household income (with pay stubs attached), you address, amount paid in rent, number of people who live in your house, and your monthly bills. The request is not automatically granted but, rather, is in the discretion of the Judge. Even if no other party contests your affidavit, the Judge may “inquire into the truth of the affidavit.” OCGA §9-15-2(b). Therefore, any additional documentation to back up the amounts listed on the affidavit will be helpful, such as monthly bills, bank statements, checks for rent, etc.
The Poverty Affidavit must be filed along with the completed and signed original Petition or Complaint that you are asking the court to allow you to file without paying the filing fee. Thus, you must be fully prepared to file the case except for the filing fee. If the Judge enters an Order granting the request, the Petition will be sent to the clerk for filing and your case will commence.