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Small Claims

What is Small Claims?

Small Claims is a dispute resolution option in the district court for resolving disputes involving small amounts of money (see the chart below for amount limits and filing fees).  The Small Claims process is designed to expedite the resolution of the dispute.  To proceed under Small Claims rules, the parties must waive the right to a jury trial, the right to attorney representation, and the right to appeal beyond district court.

The information below has been prepared by the 47th District Court as a general overview of the Small Claims process.  It is not intended to take the place of professional legal advice.

The proper court in which to file a Small Claims action is the court where the other party lives, does business or where incident occurred.

To file, make sure you are bringing the claim against the proper party and you have the defendant’s proper name and address.  You must have the correct address for the service of the summons.

To file a case at the 47th District Court, bring the completed “Affidavit and Claim” form with the appropriate filing fee and any other applicable fee(s) to the Civil Division of the 47th District Court’s Clerk’s Office.  You may obtain the “Affidavit and Claim” form from any district court or by clicking the link below.

Affidavit and Claim Form

If, as a defendant, you feel you have a claim against the person suing you, you may file a “counterclaim” in writing at the Court
 

Small Claims Filing Fees

Amount of Claim Filing Fee
Up to $600 $30.00
$601 - $1,750 $50.00
$1,751 - $6,000 (current limit) $70.00


Service

The defendant must be served with the Small Claims Affidavit.  Service can be made by certified mail (must be completed by the Court) or by process server.

Type of Service Service Fee
Certified mail to a business $7.00
Certified mail to an individual $12.00
Service by process server

$26.00
plus round trip mileage


Service by process server must be made by a 47th District Court authorized court officer, who will invoice the plaintiff directly.

If a defendant files a counterclaim, it must be served by first-class mail by the Court.

Removal to General Civil

Either party may request to have a Small Claims case changed to General Civil by completing and submitting the “Demand and Order for Removal” form.  There is no fee for moving a Small Claims case to General Civil.

Demand and Order For Removal Form

How will the case proceed?

Upon proper service being made, the defendant may file an answer to the complaint within 21 days of service and must appear at the scheduled hearing.  If the defendant fails to appear for the scheduled hearing, a default judgment will be entered against the defendant.  If the filing party (plaintiff) fails to appear for the scheduled hearing, the case will be dismissed.
 
If the parties reach an agreement before trial, the plaintiff should notify the Court that the case should be dismissed prior to the scheduled hearing date.
 
At hearing, each side should come prepared with any evidence and/or witnesses needed to present his/her case.  During the hearing, each party will have an opportunity to present their case and cross-examine the other party’s presentation.
 
A verdict in the plaintiff’s favor does not mean the defendant will pay the judgment and the costs immediately.  The plaintiff may have to take additional steps to collect and in some cases, it may be impossible to collect because the other party does not have the financial means to pay.
 
Before bringing a Small Claims action, the parties may wish to seek a more non-adversarial resolution through the services of the Oakland County Mediation Center.

Oakland County Mediation Center
(248) 338-4280