If you find yourself being sued in small claims court, you may want to transfer your case to a different court. If you feel the plaintiff filed in the wrong court or you live too far away, you can transfer to a different small claims court in your county. You may also want to switch the case to a higher court, usually because you have a counterclaim worth more than the state's small claims court limit.
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Things you need
- Original case number
- Computer with Internet access
Check over the original claim when you are first served. If the suit was filed in the wrong county, you may request that the case be moved to another small claims court.
Speak with the court clerk, who can help you determine if the case was filed in the correct location and if you have grounds to have the case heard in another court.
File a Change of Venue or similar form with the court where the original claim was filed. A judge will decide if you have grounds to move the suit to another small claims court.
Transfer Your Suit to a New Small Claims Court
Hire a lawyer. While you may always represent yourself in court, the procedures outside of small claims court are not as simple. You will find yourself bogged down with pre-trial motions, selecting a jury and hundreds of other details a lawyer can handle.
Check to see which court has jurisdiction over your type of claim. In some states, certain types of cases, such as landlord/tenant disputes, must be held in small claims court and are not eligible for a jury trial.
File a Request to Transfer or similarly named form with the court clerk within the prescribed time (usually about 10 days before the hearing).
Give the plaintiff notice that you have chosen to transfer the case to civil court. Usually the Request to Transfer form includes a notice form that will be mailed to the plaintiff along with the new court date.
Read a few of Nolo's articles on the difference between small claims and civil court in their "Rights & Disputes" section (see Resources below).
Transfer Your Case to a Higher Court
Tips and warnings
- If you have a counterclaim for more than the small claims limit in your state, speak to a lawyer to see if it is worth it to move the case to a higher court. You might end up faring better in small claims.
- The party who requests the transfer is required to pay the transfer fee, which typically costs between $50 and $300.