Costs of doing business at Moffat County Combined Courts increased today -- a week after state budget cuts left one less hour for court business. New fees mean residents using the court system will pay 50 percent more in one-time charges, under legislation passed earlier this month which went into effect Tuesday without Gov. Bill Owens' signature.
"It sounds like sticker shock, but it puts us into the mid-point range of other states (court fees)," said Colorado Supreme Court Justice Mary J. Mullarkey.
Matters ranging from divorce, separation, adoption -- most of which were charged at $90 -- will now cost another $45 in many cases.
Craig attorneys said the new fees wouldn't have much impact on the legal process. Attorney Sandra Gardner pointed to growing costs elsewhere nationwide.
"You've got to put gas in your car and people are going still going to drive," Gardner said. "It's not going to break anybody's bank."
Clients who cannot afford court fees can still ask a judge to waive them, said attorney Rebekah A. McBride.
Indigence status must meet specific criteria prescribed under state law, she said.
The state's judicial branch expects to generate another $800,000 per month with the increase as it looks to make up a $9 million cut from its fiscal year 2003 budget.
Moffat and Routt counties March 10 began closing to the public from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- a move officials said was designed to give more uninterrupted work time to court clerks. Staffs in both offices must take one unpaid day of furlough each month until the end of the current fiscal year in July.
Prior to today's fee increase, Colorado's court fees ranked fourth lowest in the nation, according to the state's judicial branch.
Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at email@example.com