A GUIDE TO SMALL CLAIMS COURT
Frequently used forms:
- Civil Cover Sheet Form
- Small Claims Petition Form
- Request for Action
- Satisfaction of Judgment
- Statement of Assets
- Self-Represented Litigant Certification Form
Small Claims Court was established to provide a simple, informal procedure for litigants to settle certain legal disputes cheaply and quickly. In Small Claims Court, you can sue someone or be sued by someone, and you represent your side of the case yourself. You cannot be represented by a lawyer. Small Claims Court is only for simple cases involving small amounts of money or property.
Each person involved in the suit will have the opportunity to go to court and present their side of the case to the presiding judge. Each side is allowed to subpoena witnesses and present exhibits to help prove their case. Then, from the evidence provided by each party, the presiding judge will rule on the case.
Small Claims procedures may vary from county to county. Potential litigants should check with the District Court Clerk’s office in their area before filing a small claims action in that court.
Potential litigants are advised that even though they may win their case in Small Claims Court, the court cannot guarantee and is not responsible for collection of judgments. Any appeal of a small claims judgment requires another filing fee and new case filed in District Court, which may mean contacting an attorney for legal advice. Appeal forms are available at the Kansas Judicial Council Web site.
Who Can Be Sued in Small Claims Court
Any person or business may sue any person(s) or business they believe owes them money. You must file the case in the county where that person(s) or business resides, or in the county that the transaction took place if the defendant was a resident at the time, or the county where the defendant can be served with a summons. You cannot sue the State or a local government unit in Small Claims Court.
Small Claims Filing Requirements
--Claims for money or property must be less than $4000.00 in value.
--A person filing must be 18 years of age, or be represented by someone 18 or over.
--The person being sued must be 18 years of age.
--A person or business may not file more than 20 cases in Small Claims Court during a calendar year.
Filing a Petition
To file a case, you must fill out and submit a petition that includes your name and address, provides the name and address of the person(s) being sued, and states the amount of money or property sought. The petition form may either be typed or hand written. If the form is hand written, please print so that the information is readable. A petition form is available at the above link. Additional petition forms and many other forms used in small claims cases are available at the Kansas Judicial Council Web site.
You must submit a Self-Represented Litigant Certification Form with the petition and any subsequent filings. You are also urged to review Supreme Court Administrative Order 2020-RL-115, Temporary Rule for Filing in a District Court by a Self-Represented Litigant, for important information regarding the filing of documents with the court.
Prior to filing, you must sign the petition before a notary public or one of the employees in the Clerk of the District Court office.
Filing fees are as follows:
- The filing fee for a claim of up to and including $500.00 is $47.50.
- The filing fee for filing a claim from $500.01 to $4000.00 is $67.50.
The person being sued must be located to be legally served with an official summons (or notice to appear) in court. As the petitioner, it is your responsibility to furnish the correct address to the Clerk’s office as the person being sued must receive notification by service of summons of the action against them.
After you have filed the petition and paid the required filing fee, a hearing date is set and a copy of the petition with the assigned hearing date is given to you. A summons, along with a copy of your petition, may be served upon the defendant by the Sheriff if you request personal service. In that event, you must pay a $15.00 service of process fee at the time you file your petition. You must provide a check or money order for $15.00 payable to the Sheriff. Do not combine the service of process fee with a check or money order for the filing fee, which is payable to Clerk of District Court.
When the defendant in your case is served, you will receive a copy showing service. If no service, you must contact the clerk before the court date with a new address or whatever information you may have so that the person(s) can be served.
If you settle the case before the hearing date, notify the court at once so the case can be dismissed.
Your Day in Court
Small claims court proceedings are conducted informally by the presiding judge. When you arrive for your hearing, you should be prepared to clearly explain your side of the case. Bring witnesses, evidence, papers, documents or other material(s) you need to prove or support your case. You may subpoena witnesses to appear and testify and you or the judge may question them about the case. A $25.00 witness fee and mileage must be paid to subpoena each witness sought. A separate $15.00 service of process fee, payable to the Sheriff, must accompany each subpoena.
The defendant will be allowed to present their side of the case to the judge.
If the defendant files a counterclaim against you, it may be heard at the same time.
Depending on the circumstances, the judge may make a decision in the case and the small claims hearing is over. If judgment is in your favor it is your responsibility to collect what is owed. If you lose, you may file an appeal within ten (10) days of judgment. Appeals may result in additional filing fees and other costs. You may also wish to consult an attorney regarding appellate procedures.
Collecting a Judgment
PLEASE NOTE: All forms described in this section are available at the Kansas Judicial Council Web site.
The judgment creditor is responsible for collecting the judgment amount. If you have won the case, you are the judgment creditor. The loser of the case is the judgment debtor.
The judgment debtor has 10 days after the judgment is entered to file an appeal. Unless an appeal has been filed or full payment made either directly to you or the Clerk of the District Court within 15 days of the date of the judgment, you (judgment creditor) are required to do the following:
--Send a copy of the Journal Entry of Judgment and a Statement of Assets form to the judgment debtor.
--File proof of mailing with the District Court Clerk's office. The judgment debtor has 30 days to either pay the judgment or complete a Statement of Assets form and return it to the Clerk of the District Court, who will in turn send it to you, the judgment creditor.
As judgment creditor, you may enforce your judgment by:
--Wage Garnishment: If the judgment creditor has complete information on place of employment for the judgment debtor. After service of garnishment, the garnishing party must send a notice of garnishment to the judgment debtor, along with a Notice of Exemptions and a Request for Hearing. ($12.50 Judicial Branch Surcharge)
--Non-Wage Garnishment: If the judgment creditor has complete information for a non-earnings garnishment (i.e. banking institutions, credit unions). After service of garnishment, the garnishing party must send a notice of garnishment to the judgment debtor, along with a Notice of Exemption and a Request for Hearing. ($12.50 Judicial Branch Surcharge)
--Application for Examination Of Judgment Debtor: This order would bring the judgment debtor back to court for examination by the presiding judge. Requires a filing in the District Court Clerk’s office, after which a court date is set and an Order for Hearing In Aid of Execution is signed by the judge, which is then issued to the Sheriff’s Department for service upon the judgment debtor.
--Citation In Contempt: The judgment creditor may request the judge to issue a Citation in Contempt. If the judge issues a Citation in Contempt, the citation is issued to the Sheriff’s Department for service on the judgment debtor with an order to appear before the judge on a set court date. ($12.50 Judicial Branch Surcharge)
Once all money(s) owed is paid and/or property returned, a Satisfaction of Judgment must be completed and filed with the court. The District Court Clerk's office is not responsible for entering a satisfaction of judgment when a debt is paid.
The judgment debtor has 10 days after judgment is entered to file an appeal in writing to get a new hearing from a different judge.
The filing fee for a small claims appeal is $195.00. Someone appealing a small claims case or attempting to collect a judgment granted in a small claims case does have the right to hire an attorney to assist them.
Again, it is up to you as judgment creditor to collect a judgment. The court does not provide collection services.
If You Are Sued in Small Claims Court
If you are being sued in Small Claims Court, and you do owe the other party money or property, and you pay what you owe, you may not have to appear in court. The plaintiff must notify the Clerk’s office in writing prior to the court date.
If you have a claim against the plaintiff (the party suing you) in connection with the same matter that their claim concerns, you may file a counterclaim. Fill out the “defendant’s claim” form that came with the summons and return it as soon as possible to the District Court where the hearing is to take place.
If you do not settle the claim against you out of court, then you must appear in court at your scheduled time or the presiding judge may rule against you. Bring with you any documents that will prove your side of the case, and any witnesses who may testify on your behalf. (You too may subpoena witnesses.) The judge will give both sides a chance to speak before making a decision. If the judge decides against you, you are legally bound to pay to the plaintiff whatever the judge orders you to pay. You may appeal the judge’s decision.
Detailed information about Small Claims procedures appears on the Small Claims Petition Form you must use to file your case. You must provide all required copies to the Clerk’s office. You also must provide the completed Civil Cover Sheet Form.