Is Small Claims Court Worth It?

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When someone owes you money, you exhaust all means to collect that money. For many, they end up before a judge in small claims court. Now, you may feel that heading to court is going to resolve your problems. However, there are fallacies in this theory. You can go to court and still be out the money. However, now you have an added fee on top of the money you already lost.

 

You Must Have Sufficient Proof

 

Going to court is nerve wracking. To start small claims, you must pay a filing fee. The filing fees various depending on the area, but the average is between $35 and $100. After the fee is paid, you will get your day in court. You must be able to prove to the judge that this person owes you money. If you don’t have sufficient proof, you are wasting your time. If the other party does not show, then you will win by default. However, they can show and fight. Don’t worry, the judge will typically make a decision right there.

 

Collecting The Money

 

Now, let’s assume that the judge finds in your favor. He agrees that you are owed the money. The other person is giving a judgment to pay the balance. They can pay that day or set up a payment plan with the clerk. Consequently, keep in mind that a judgment doesn’t equal money. It is validation that they owe the money. If that person doesn’t have a job or any means to pay that bill, then you may be out of luck.

 

Many people get the court’s help only to find out that it was no help at all. If the other party has a job and doesn’t pay, then you can ask the court to garnish their wages. You can only garnish up to 25 percent of a paycheck each time. You will need to file each time you want this done. If there are any other garnishments on the paycheck, then you will need to share the 25 percent.

 

In many cases, people find that they still have no money even though they have a judgement. Some people work under the table and try their best to avoid paying their debts. The court cannot garnish what they cannot find. Small claims only handle amounts between $3,000 and $10,000. So, larger amounts will require a higher court. Here are the pros and cons of taking a person to small claims.

 

Pros

 

  • Quick Process That Requires No Attorney
  • Cost Effective Way To Collect
  • Court Acts As A Mediator Between Parties
  • Can Be Easy To Collect Money

 

Cons

 

  • Paying A Filing Fee On top Of Debt
  • Obtaining Judgment That May Be Uncollectible
  • Staying On Top Of The Other Party For Payment
  • May Need To Garnish Wages
  • Can Be A Complete Waste Of Time
  • Amounts Are Small and Limited By State

 

To File Or Not To File

 

The choice is up to you on filing a small claims case. However, keep in mind that many times you don’t walk away with the payment that day. Still, the collections process can be long and drawn out, even though you won.