A Guide to Small Claims:

FILING FEES:

  • $47.50 for claims $500.00 or less
  • $67.50 for claims $500.01 to $4,000.00

WHAT IS SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

Small Claims Court was established to provide a simple, informal procedure for people to settle certain legal problems 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 fairly simple cases involving small amounts of money or property.

This guide is designed to help you decide whether or not you should use the Kansas Small Claims court to solve a problem, and to help you understand how it works. Please remember that procedures vary somewhat from county to county. Always check with the district court clerk’s office in your county first to be sure you have all of the correct information before taking action in that small claims court.

Litigants should remember that even though they may win their case in small claims court, the court cannot guarantee and is not responsible for collection. Any appeal of small a claims judgment requires another filing fee and new case filed in district court, which may mean contacting an attorney for legal advice.

Also, the job of court personnel is to process cases. They cannot give you legal advice. The Clerk’s office is prohibited by law from giving any legal advice.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO FILE A CASE?

The following restrictions apply to small claims cases:

  • The Civil Cover Sheet must be completed and filed with the Small Claims Petition Form .
  • Claims must not be greater than $4,000.00, exclusive of interest, costs and any damages for worthless checks that may be awarded under K.S.A. 60-2610 as amended.
  • Those who file must be over 18 years of age, or be represented by someone over 18. Any business or corporation may use Small Claims court. However, collection agencies may not use the court to collect for their clients.
  • A person cannot file more than 20 cases in small claims court in one calendar year (January 1- December 31)
  • To file a case, you must fill out a petition providing your name and address, provide the name and address of the person(s) being sued, and state the amount of money or property you are asking for and why you are asking for it.
  • The person being sued must be able to be located so they can be legally served with an official summons (or notice to appear) in court. It is your responsibility to furnish the correct address to the clerk’s office as the person must receive notification by service of summons of the action against them

WHO CAN BE SUED IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

You may sue any person or business in Kansas that you believe owes you money or property. You may not sue the State or a local government unit in Small Claims Court.

ALL APPLICABLE SUPREME COURT RULES MAY BE FOUND AT www.kscourts.org

ALL APPLICABLE FORMS MAY BE FOUND AT www.kansasjudicialcouncil.org

HOW DO I FILE A CLAIM?

The Civil Cover Sheet must be completed and filed with the Small Claims Petition Form .

If your case meets the requirements stated, you should file your claim in the Clerk of the District Courts office. You must have the required filing fee and the correct name and address of the person(s) you are suing.

You may print the Small Claims Petition Form and take it to the clerk's office for filing. You must bring the original and a copy to be served on each person you are suing.

AFTER YOUR CLAIM IS FILED?

When you file the petition, 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’s department if you request personal service.

When the defendant in your case is served, you will receive a copy showing service. If no service, it is your responsibility to 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, you must file a dismissal.

YOUR DAY IN COURT

Small claims court proceedings are conducted informally by the 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.

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 do cost more money, since they may involve the payment for another filing fee, legal advice from an attorney, etc.

WHAT IF YOU ARE BEING 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 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 the Small Claims procedures appears on the Small Claims Petition Form that 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 .

HOW TO APPEAL A CASE:

Following the judgment, both parties have the right to appeal and get a new hearing from a new judge. Appeals must be filed in writing within 14 days of the judgment.

The District Court Clerk’s Office is PROHIBITED BY LAW from giving ANY legal advice

ALL NECESSARY FORMS CAN BE FOUND AT www.kansasjudicialcouncing.org

IF FORM OBTAINED FROM CLERK’S OFFICE:

The filing Fee MUST be paid at the time of filing. At this time you will be given a court date.

ALL APPLICABLE SUPREME COURT RULES CAN BE FOUND AT www.kscourts.org .

GUIDE TO SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURES

State your claim on the Petition, giving the following basic information:

PROOF OF SERVICE:

Prior to the court date, contact the District Court Clerk’s office to find out if the defendant was served with their copy of the court papers.  (No earlier than three (3) days prior, and ONLY IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED A COPY OF THE RETURN THROUGH FIRST CLASS MAIL).

OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT:

If the defendant pays you before the hearing, you MUST notify the court IMMEDIATELY and file a plaintiff’s Request for Actions (forms available at the Clerk’s Office so your case can be dismissed and removed from the court docket.

POSTPONEMENT:

Both parties MUST appear in person.  Any party desiring a continuance
must obtain the permission of the Court. A continuance will only be granted for good cause.  If you wish to postpone the court date you must put your request in writing and file it with the District Court Clerk’s office at least (14) days prior to the court date. A copy of any request for continuance should be sent to the opposing party by the individual requesting the continuance.

THE HEARING:

The purpose of the first hearing is for the court to determine if the claim will be disputed.   If the claims are disputed, the Court will ask the parties if they are prepared for trial.  If the parties are ready and IF TIME PERMITS, the Court will conduct a trial and hear the evidence.  The court will normally allow a party additional time to prepare for trial, IF REQUESTED.

The parties should come to court prepared for trial.  Bring all documents that will support your claim.  Bring all witnesses that you wish to have testify.  If a witness will not come voluntarily, you may request the court to order him/her to appear by subpoena.  Any request for subpoena should be done at least (14) days prior to the hearing date. 

The trial is an informal hearing before a judge.  The judge will ask both parties questions about the claims.  Answer the judge’s questions simply and calmly.  Show the judge any papers you have which support your claim.  After questioning each party, the judge will allow the parties to question each other and to present witnesses in support of the claim.  Upon conclusion of the evidence the Judge will announce a decision.

ALL NECESSARY FORMS CAN BE FOUND AT www.kansasjudicialcouncing.org

RESOLUTION OF CLAIM PRIOR TO COURT DATE

If payment of money owed and/or return of property is made prior to the court date a Request for Action (dismissal) must be completed and filed with the court.

COLLECTING YOUR MONEY OR PROPERTY:

The judgment creditor MUST be 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 Clerk’s office will give you (the judgment creditor) a form entitled “Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets”. This form is to be used to help in the collection of the judgment, as the basis for proceedings such as executions and garnishments of wages, bank account, or other property.

The loser (judgment debtor) has 10 days after the judgment is entered to file and appeal (see section on appeal, above).

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:

  1. Send a copy of the Journal Entry of Judgment and the blank form Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets to the loser (judgment debtor).
  2. File proof of mailing with the Clerk of the District Court. The judgment debtor has 30 days to either pay the judgment or complete the form “Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets” and return it to the Clerk of the District Court, who will in turn send it to you, the judgment creditor.
  3. Once all money(s) owed is paid and/or property returned a Satisfaction of Judgment must be completed and filed with the court.

DISTRICT COURT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PURSUING COLLECTIONS

ALL NECESSARY FORMS CAN BE FOUND AT www.kansasjudicialcouncing.org

After judgment is granted, either party has ten (10) days to appeal the judge’s decision.  After fifteen (15) days, the judgment Creditor may enforce their judgment by:

The District Court Clerk’s Office is PROHIBITED BY LAW from giving ANY legal advice