Get Ready for Small Claims Court

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    How to Get Ready for Small Claims Court

    Have a hearing for small claims court but unsure of what documents you need or how to prepare? Small claims court is a special kind of court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. In these court hearings, the rules are simplified, and the hearing tends to be more informal than other court hearings. However, these hearings can still be stressful if you are not prepared. Generally, attorneys are not allowed in small claims court hearings, and the claims are limited to disputes up to $5,000. Preparing effectively for small claims court can make or break your case.

    What You Need to Prepare for Small Claims Court

    To prepare effectively, you will need all the pertinent documents to your case. Your goal is to help the judge understand every aspect of your argument. The type of case you are preparing for will affect which document(s) you need to bring. For example, if the case relates to family law, bring all records of divorce, custody agreements, and other family law documents. If you need to submit your documents to the court, always make copies of the original. The judge may ask to see the original version of a document. In this case, it pays to have certified copies on hand in case you are unable to retrieve the original. It is best practice to make two copies of each document to be on the safe side. In small claims court, the judge will play an active role in asking questions to understand the case. Therefore, if you think a document will help the judge better understand the case, bring it!

    Helping Small Claims Court Run Smoothly

    Now that you have your documents in order, the next step is to get yourself in order! To make small claims court run smoothly, organize your thoughts and evidence to make your claim easy to understand. Try to anticipate the questions that the judge may ask and think of appropriate responses. By thinking ahead, you will already be in a better position to present your case. If you want to go the extra mile, sit through a small claims court hearing before yours takes place. This will give you an idea of how the process runs and what kind of questions the judge may ask. Also, think about what the other party may try to counter your arguments with and come up with polite counterarguments. Doing so will ensure your argument is clear, concise, and convincing.

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