In Forma Pauperis Law and Legal Definition

In forma pauperis is a Latin term meaning "in the form of a pauper," referring to a party to a lawsuit who gets filing fees waived by filing a statement, often in the form of an affidavit, declaring the inability to pay.

Indigency, or lack of ability to pay, is a legal reason for having certain required fees waived, being declared eligible for free services, or apppointment of legal counsel. The Sixth Amendment says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” Therefore, people who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer may have one appointed for them. There are also constitutional due process requirements applicable to an indigent person's access to services and processes in the legal system. Often, there is a statutory requirement that an affidavit of indigency be submitted in order to have a legally required fee waived, such as a court filing fee.