Everyone -- Petitioner & Respondent -- has to pay filing fees. If you cannot afford the fee, you can request a Fee Waiver.
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Each party to an action has to pay a filing fee because California is a no fault divorce state and because the Court system needs the money. If a party is low enough on the income scale, he/she may qualify for a fee waiver.
I don't think an inmate can qualify for spousal support because one of the things the court looks at is the asking party's need which is zero if that person is being housed, clothed and fed. One of the other things the court looks at is whether the asking party has the ability to work. If incarcerated, probably not much possibility of that.
The fee is for the "use" of the court system. It does not matter whether you're petitioner or respondent.
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