Ohio’s Uniform Civil Fee Waiver Affidavit
Statewide Form: In April 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court published Form 20, “Civil Fee Waiver Affidavit and Order.” This form is to be used for all fee waiver requests made under R.C. 2323.311 and must be accepted by all Ohio courts. The form includes a two-page affidavit for the litigant’s income, assets, and household information; a third page for the court order, and a fourth page with an Appendix of the Federal Poverty Limit. Click here for a fillable version of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Form 20 .
R.C. 2323.311 instructs all state courts and clerks of court to follow the mandatory, objective test of income and expenses for fee waiver requests as follows:
- Filings Must Be Accepted: When a litigant initiates a civil action or proceeding accompanied with a Fee Waiver Affidavit, “the clerk of the court shall accept the action or proceeding for filing.” (B)(3).
- Decision Required: The judge or magistrate “shall review” the Affidavit and “shall approve or deny” it. (B)(4). Courts may not disregard the fee waiver request.
- Mandatory Waiver: Courts “shall approve” a fee waiver for a litigant whose income is at/below 187.5 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit and whose expenses are at/above their income. (B)(4).
Discretionary Waivers Allowed: In addition to the mandatory fee waiver, the statute explicitly allows courts, at their discretion, to waive fees for litigants whose income is above 187.5 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit or whose expenses do not exceed their income. See R.C. 2323.311(B)(6).
All State Courts: R.C. 2746.10 applies this mandatory fee waiver to “any court of record.” All Municipal Courts and Common Pleas Divisions, including Juvenile and Probate, are subject to R.C. 2323.311.
The VLP Asks for Your Participation in This Critical Time
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic crisis, the Volunteer Lawyers Project is anticipating considerable demands for our pro bono services. Area families are struggling due to unprecedented job loss or reduced wages. The expected impact on the VLP is two-fold:
1) More households are now eligible for pro bono services; and
2) As income decreases, legal needs increase—
- more workers need help with unemployment compensation and wage claims;
- more families need help negotiating mortgage, rent, tax, and other debt payment plans;
- more individuals are at greater risk of domestic violence or financial exploitation, requiring help with divorces, protection orders, advance directives, and guardianships.
What can YOU do? Three ways YOU can help:
- Take a case – contact Laura (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tonya (email@example.com).
- Encourage a colleague to volunteer – forward this email.
- Mentor a new volunteer – contact Elizabeth (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Attorneys are uniquely situated to help people through this crisis. Providing pro bono representation for families in need will be a valuable contribution to our community.
CLICK TO VOLUNTEER