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Small Claims are civil lawsuits that do not exceed $4,000 in dispute. The claim must be for the recovery of money or personal property. The parties must represent themselves in small claims and cannot have an attorney represent them in the case.
You may sue any person or business in Kansas that you believe owes you money or property. The person being sued must be over 18 years of age. You may not sue the State or a local governmental unit in Small Claims Court per KSA 75-6103(2). Any business or corporation may use the Small Claims Court process. However, collection agencies are prohibited from doing so in order to collect from their clients.
You must file the case in the county where that person(s) or business resides, or in the county where the transaction took place if the defendant was a resident at that time (verification required), or the county where the defendant can be served with a summons.
Visit the appropriate District Clerk’s Office and request the necessary forms for filing small claims. They will provide you with a Civil Information Sheet and a Petition. You may fill out forms at the office and file them immediately or you may take them home to complete and file later. Please note that your signature on the petition must be notarized or signed before the Clerk.
The required filing fee must be paid at the time of filing by cash, personal check or money order payable to the Clerk of District Court.
There is also a $15 sheriff's service of process fee. This is required to serve a summons on the defendant in your case. A separate check or money order made payable to the County Sheriff's Office must accompany your petition. Do not combine the sheriff's fee with a check or money order for the filing fee.
The person being sued must be able to be located so they can be legally served or given an official summons (or notice to appear) in court. It is your responsibility to include the address on the petition form when you file it with the Clerk's Office.
Each side is allowed to have witnesses or exhibits to support their claim. You may subpoena witnesses so that you and the judge may question them about your claim. When issuing a subpoena, you must include a $10 fee plus mileage remittance payable to the witness as payment for appearing.
Again, there is a $15 sheriff's service of process fee that must accompany the subpoena. For each witness being subpoenaed, a check or money order made payable to County Sheriff's Office must be provided by the party wishing to subpoena witnesses.
Small Claims Court proceedings are conducted informally by the judge. You will present your claim so bring any evidence, documents, or other proof you need to support your case. The defendant will also be allowed to present their side of the case. The judge may make a decision immediately after hearing both sides or he may continue the case to another date. If the defendant was served a summons and does not show up for the hearing, the judge may declare the defendant to be in default and award judgment to the plaintiff (you).
The Court is not responsible for collections in the Small Claims cases. If you win your case, you become the Judgment Creditor. The loser of the case is the Judgment Debtor. A form entitled "Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets" will be attached to the copy of the Journal Entry of Judgment which is given to the Judgment Creditor. This form is used to help in the collection of the judgment, as the basis for proceedings such as executions and garnishments of wages and bank accounts or other property should that become necessary. The “Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets” form contains instructions for both the Judgment Creditor and Judgment Debtor regarding how to proceed. You may obtain garnishment forms from the Clerk’s Office or they are available at the Kansas Judicial Branch website. You may hire an attorney to help you collect the judgment.
If you lose, an appeal may be filed in District Court. The Clerk of the District Court can provide you with a Notice of Appeal form for your completion. A filing fee is required at the time of filing. Appeals cost more money since they involve payment for another filing fee and service fees. You may wish to retain an attorney to advise and represent you in the appeal process and hearings.
If you are being sued in Small Claims Court and you agree that owe the other party money or property, you may pay the filing party what you owe and you will not have to appear in court. After the matter is resolved, you are responsible for providing the court with a receipt or statement signed by the other party acknowledging the claim has been paid in full. This must be filed before the scheduled hearing date and time.
If you have a claim against the plaintiff (the other party) in connection with the same matter that his claim concerns, you may file a counterclaim. Fill out the "Defendants Claim" form that came with the summons and return it as soon as possible to the Court. You still must appear at the scheduled court hearing.
If you do not settle the claim against you out of court, then you must appear in court at the time scheduled or the judge may rule against you. Remember to bring with you any documents or evidence that will support your side of the dispute, and any witnesses who can speak on your behalf. The judge will give both you and the other party a chance to speak before making a decision. If the judge decides against you, you are legally bound to pay the plaintiff whatever the judge orders you to pay. You may appeal the judge’s decision.