Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Arenac County
Small Claims Court cases in Arenac County are handled in the 81st District Court. 81st District CourtPO Box 129 Arenac County Building 129 Grove St. Standish, MI 48658
The phone number for Arenac County District Court is: (989) 846-9538. The District Court can be found online here.
Settling a Small Claims Court
Oftentimes the court may try to settle a court case without a hearing. Mediation is the method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. In mediation, a mediator will meet with both parties, discuss the case, and try and work towards an agreement that both sides can live with in the hopes of resolving the case without a trial.
How do I file a Small Claims court case in Arenac County?
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. Filings fees for small claims court cases are:
- $30 – for claims up to $600
- $50 – for claims between $600 and $1,750
- $70 – for claims between $1,750 and up to $6,000
If the plaintiff prevails in the case, the court may award the filing fee to the plaintiff as part of the costs of the action. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the case number. It is important to keep this case number with you to use each time you contact the court clerk or any court staff as it will help them identify your case. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Who Hears My Case in Arenac County Small Claims Court
Juries are not available for a small claims court case. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.
Arenac County Small Claims Court
Small Claims court cases in Arenac County are filed in the 81st District Court. The 81st District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. A special branch of 81st District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. A party does not need to know anything about the law to file a small claims court case. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. Neither party needs to hire an attorney for small claims court cases (but can consult with one for questions about their case). A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 81st District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Arenac County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
A plaintiff should file the small claims court case in the district court where the defendant lives, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transactions (that are at issue) occurred. Where the case is filed is called venue. Filing in the wrong district court can postpone your case being heard, force you to pay additional filing and service fees, and/or have your case be dismissed. The court staff of the 81st District Court cannot provide advice, but it can tell you the geographic location the court serves. It is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm you have the proper venue.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court (which means either side could then be represented by an attorney). The downside to this is that regular district court utilizes the normal rules of evidence and discovery which means your case will take longer to resolve.
How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
A small claims court in Arenac County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). If a party chooses to file their case in small claims court which is worth more than six thousand dollars, the party can still choose to file the case in small claims court. However, if you do, the plaintiff loses the right to any amount over $6,000. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:
- Ignoring the Case (which could end up with the court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case Outside of Court
- Transferring the Case out of Small Claims Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a plaintiff wants specific property or the court to make an order regarding specific performance, small claims court is not the property place to file the case. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:
- Traffic Collisions
- Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
- Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). The court may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is a way for the court to provide notice to the Defendant of your action so the Defendant can have proper time to respond and appear and provide a defense. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case to the court. It is advised that you write out what you plan on saying to the court about your case in advance (to help focus in on what is really important). Also, if there are any witnesses besides yourself who have information that would support your position, you should arrange to have them present at the hearing so they can present testimony to the court.
Hearings in Arenac County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 81st District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. Either the plaintiff or defendant can decide to remove the case from the small claims court division to the regular district court. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This document needs to be filed prior to the small claims court trial or hearing and can actually be filed the same day (so long as it is before the hearing starts). The form can be found here.