Yes, you are required to pay a first paper fee when you respond for the first time or make your first appearance in court.
If you cannot afford the court's filing fees or other court costs, you may request that the court waive all or some of your filing fees or costs by applying for fee waiver. you must complete and submit a Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001) and, with the top portion completed, an Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) (Form FW-003). Each party must complete their own forms when seeking a fee waiver.
Generally, eligibility for the fee waiver is based upon your household income or whether you receive public assistance. If a you file a request for a fee waiver and the court finds that you do not qualify, you must pay the appropriate filing fees.
Additional detailed information on requesting a fee waiver can be found on the California Courts website under the "Self-Help" section.