Paulding County Small Claims Court
When will my hearing date be?
The court will select a hearing date after the defendant files an answer to the claim. The date for the hearing is generally 15 to 30 days after the defendant files his or her answer.
Defendant’s Time to Answer
Defendant’s Time to Answer
After the case is filed, the clerk of the magistrate court serves the defendant with a copy of the claim along with a summons. From that point, the defendant has thirty days to respond or answer.
Which County do I file my case in?
If you are suing a person, you must file the case in the County where they live. If the defendant lives in Paulding County, you can file the case in this County. If you are suing a corporation, you must file your case in the County where the registered agent for service of process is located. To find the registered agent, contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State either online or at 404-656-2817. If you are suing an unincorporated business, you must file the case where the business is physically located. If the business is in Paulding County, you can file here.
Plaintiff has to also pay a filing fee which is submitted with the initial paperwork. The filing fee includes the cost to serve one defenant. The filing fee varies by each county but is generally between $45 and $55. If an additional defendant is named in the action, there is an extra charge for serving the additional party. The extra charge could is usually between $25-$35 (to serve the added party).
The Clerk for the Magistrate Court can direct you to the necessary forms (and review them for completeness) but is prohibited by law from giving legal advice. For example, the court clerk would be able to review your completed forms to make sure your signature is in the appropriate blanks but is not able to tell you which defendant you should sue. Also, the clerk will not be able to tell you if they think you will win.
Yes. This is called a counterclaim. The defendant can file this against the plaintiff’s original claim if the defendant’s claim is related to the plaintiff’s initial claim and the amount asked for by the defendant is less than $15,000. A defendant’s counterclaim is generally heard at the same time and date as the plaintiff’s original claim.
Preparing for the Hearing
We recommend taking the following steps to prepare for your hearing:
- Ensure you have all copies of any documents you need for the case. You should make at least two additional sets of copies (one for the court and one for the other party).
- Contact any witnesses you need to call to prove your case and confirm that they will appear on the hearing date
- If you need to bring in a witness to prove your case and the witness is not being cooperative with you, prepare a subpoena.
- If in preparing your documents you find that you need additional documents, you can subpoena documents from other parties as well.
- A subpoena is a command from the court for a person or documents to appear at a certain time and date to give testimony or produce evidence. A subpoena can be obtained from the clerk’s office.
Which Types of Cases are Usually filed in Paulding County Small Claims Court?
These are some examples of the types of cases that are filed in magistrate court:
- Tenant does not and will not pay for damages caused to rental which are in excess of security deposit
- Tenant fails to pay rent and landlord wants to evict tenant
- Tenant moves out and landlord refuses to return security deposit
- Failure of a merchant to deal with faulty merchandise
- Borrower refuses to pay back money which was loaned
- A dry cleaner will not pay for clothing which was damaged or lost
- Automobile shop conducts unnecessary repairs or work on your car
How do I appeal a judgment?
A party that is not satisfied with the judge’s decision can file an appeal of that judgment. The appeal will be heard in the state or superior court of Paulding County. On the appeal, either party may request a jury trial (something you cannot have at the magistrate court level). The appeal needs to be filed within thirty days of the court’s decision.
If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing or respond to the claim, the judge can issue a default judgment against the defendant. If a default judgment is granted, the plaintiff is entitled to what he or she asked for in the action and court costs. If the plaintiff asks for damages that are not measured in money (like specific property), the court will likely conduct an additional hearing to place a dollar amount on the value of the property (or item being asked for). The defendant has only thirty days to respond to the caim. If the defendant fails to respond, the defendant is in default.
Paulding County Court Location
The magistrate court for Paulding County is located at:280 Constitutional Blvd Dallas, GA 30132
It can be reached by telephone at: 770-443-7506. The fax number is 770-443-6613. The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate Martin E. Valbuena.
Hearing Procedures and Mediation
Some counties require you to go to mediation before a hearing in front of a judge. Mediation is an attempt to try and settle the case without a hearing. Even if the parties agree to settle the case out of court, the plaintiff may still ask the defendant to pay court costs (costs for filing the case, serving defendants, any subpoenas issues, etc.). In the event the mediation does not resolve the claim, the case will proceed to the hearing. The court will also allow the plaintiff and defendant to question or dispute each other’s evidence during the hearing. When both parties are done, the judge will issue a decision (or judgment). The court could award damages to the plaintiff, the defendant, or both depending on the merits of the case.
If the plaintiff does not appear at the hearing, the court may do any of the following:
- allow defendant the opportunity to put on evidence and issue a decision without the plaintiff present.
- The court can continue the case to a later date
- Dismiss the case
If the defendant does not show at the hearing, the court has the authority to grant a default judgment against the defendant. The name comes from the fact that because the defendant does not show, the plaintiff wins the case by “default.” It is strongly recommended you attend the hearing whether you are the plaintiff or defendant (regardless of whether you believe the case to be strong or weak).
Do I need to hire an attorney?
You may hire an attorney but you are not required to. You are able to file the case on your own completely without the assistance of an attorney. All cases are tried and heard before a judge, without a jury. You should remember that the procedures and rules for small claims court cases are designed so that a party should not need to have to retain an expensive attorney in order for their case to be effectively presented. Some courts utilize mediation as a tool to resolve a case without the time and expense of a trial. Some counties will even require a case to attempt to be settled at mediation prior to it being set for trial.
Small Claims courts are also called Magistrate Courts in Paulding County. If a dispute arises between parties that cannot be resolved, a party can file the matter in magistrate court.
Small Claims courts handle cases where the amount in dispute is less than $15,000.00. The process is designed to be quick and inexpensive.
What are the procedures for filing a case?
A plaintiff (person who starts the claim or lawsuit) must file a sworn statement with the clerk of the appropriate magistrate court. The sworn statement simply spells out the claims made against the defenant and includes the facts on which the claim is based. At a minimum, the sworn statement should include the following facts:
- Name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff (and attorney if the plaintiff has one)
- Name and street address of the defendant (this is what the court uses to serve the defendant)
- The amount of money the plaintiff is requesting
- Brief, succint statement detailing why the defendant is being sued (include dates of all relevant events)
- Copies of all relevant documents regarding the claim (for example, any contracts, receipts, etc.)
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Is there a statute of limitations on filing in Small Claims Court?