New court fees in the new year

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 4, 2020

With the new year comes increased fees in the court system, most of which were mandated by the Mississippi Legislature in 2019.

All fee changes went into effect Jan. 1.

The majority of court fee increases were in the Chancery Court. Unlike other county offices, the Chancery Clerk’s office has to pay the staff from fees that are collected, said Pearl River County Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman. The Legislature raised fees across the state for those courts because some of the smaller counties had clerks who were unable to pay their employees with the fees they were collecting, Bowman said. While Pearl River County’s office did not have that issue, increasing the fees will make a huge difference for smaller counties across the state, Bowman said.

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Compared to other states in the region, Mississippi has very low fees for deeds, Bowman said. Mississippi court fees that are $12 for filing services are more than $100 in nearby states like Louisiana and Alabama, she said.

Filing fees have more than doubled for deeds, increasing from $12 to $26, but remain similar for oil and gas leases and releases at $20 or $21. However, oil and gas releases or cancellations will include an $18 fee for each additional book.

Deeds, including warranty, timber, quitclaim, trustee’s deed, deeds of trust, leases, plats, covenants and mobile home certificates, have increased to $26.

Assignment of leases, partial releases, releases or cancellations will require a fee of $27, which is an increase from the $13 to $17 fees previously in place.

Oil and gas leases, mineral deed and royalty deeds will be $20 and oil and gas releases or cancellations will be $21.

Mineral Stamp fees remain the same.

The filing fees for Chancery Court civil cases have increased to a uniform base fee of $85. Previously the base fees ranged from $25 to $75. The statutorily mandated fees remain the same at $57.50.

The only increase in Chancery Court fees that the county made was for a $1 archive fee that will help fund the county’s record management and allow the county to get assistance from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History with cleaning old records, according to previous coverage. Half of the archive fee will help the Chancery Clerk’s office with record management, while the other half will go to the state Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Bowman said.

The rest of the Chancery Court fee increases were passed by the state legislature in 2019.

The only increase in Circuit Court fees is the $1 archive fee passed by the county, said Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes. Again, half of the archive fee will go to the state and half will help the Circuit Clerk’s office with records management, which could entail purchasing software or paying to have old records cleaned, said Bowman.

The Legislature did increase the fees collected for Sheriff’s Departments and constables from $35 to $45, said Stokes, which are typically processing fees.