General Information About Small Claims
Filing Fees/Court Costs
Filing fees are payable by cash, check, money order or credit
card (if paid by credit card there is a processing fee.)
Make checks payable to Martin County Clerk of Court.
A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in county
court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where
the dollar amount involved is $5,000.00 or less, excluding
costs, interest, and attorney fees.
Although you have the right to represent yourself in
Small Claims Court, it is in your best interest to consult
an attorney for legal advice. Florida Statutes prohibit
the Clerk of Court from assisting you if your claim is
higher than $5,000.00.
Filing Your Case
Statement of Claim and the
Summons forms. If you have more than one defendant
you will need a Summons for each party.
File your completed paperwork with the Clerk. Appropriate
filing fees must be paid at this time.
Approximately one week after filing your case,
the Clerk will mail you a copy of the paperwork that
you filed with your court date inserted on it. This
will be your notice for court. The defendantís notice
is forwarded to the Sheriff or sent by certified mail
at this time. Your court date will be scheduled four
to six weeks from the date you file your case with
You should receive notification from the Sheriff
or the Clerk as to whether or not the defendant has
been served. If you do not receive any information
regarding the service, then you may contact the Clerk
two to three days prior to your court date to verify
service. If the Clerk does not show proof of service then
you must contact the Sheriff. If service was attempted by
certified mail, the Clerk will contact the post office.
The first court date both parties are required
to appear at is the Pretrial/Mediation hearing. The
Judge will give the parties an opportunity to settle/resolve
the issues by meeting with a mediator who will attempt
to mediate your case. At this hearing, you should
bring any supporting documentation relating to your
case for the mediator's review. Do not bring in witnesses
at this time. Parties or attorneys with authority
to settle the claim must appear at the Pretrial/Mediation
If you settle at Mediation an agreement will be
prepared by the mediator. Both parties, and the Judge
will sign this agreement.
If the parties are unable to settle at the Pretrial/Mediation
hearing, the case will be scheduled for a second court
date, which will be the trial. The trial date will
be set approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the pretrial/mediation.
At the trial you should have all of your witnesses
and any evidence that you will present to the Judge
to support/prove your claim. Remember that you are
the Plaintiff and you have the burden of proof. The
Judge may rule (make a decision) at the trial or reserve
ruling to a later date. The Judge will file the final
judgment with the Clerk. Upon receipt of the final
judgment, the Clerk will mail a copy of the judgment
to both parties.
Mediation Program: To assist parties
in settling lawsuits, mediators will be present at the
pretrial conference. Parties or attorneys with authority
to settle the action MUST APPEAR unless a waiver executed
pursuant to Florida Small Claims Rule 7.090(e) has been
Suing an Individual: You must have the exact
name(s) and address(s) of the individual(s).
Suing a Corporation: You must have the exact name
of the corporation as listed on file with the Division
of Corporation in Tallahassee, together with the Name
of the Registered Agent and the address where the Registered
Agent may be served. The Secretary of State, Division
of Corporation, will furnish the above information.
Suing a Fictitious Name or Partnership: You must
have the name and address of the person doing business
as (d/b/a).( i.e: John Doe d/b/a John Doe Business.) If
a partnership, you need the name and address of all partners.
Many individual partnerships and corporations do business
under a fictitious name. You cannot sue a fictitious name
by itself. It is not an entity. It is your responsibility
to determine whether individuals, partners or corporations
are doing business under a fictitious name. This information
can be obtained from Tallahassee, at the Secretary of
State, Division of Corporation. They will tell you who
has registered to do business under that specific fictitious
name. (i.e: John Doe Corporation d/b/a John Doe Business)
REMEMBER: Clerks of Court, Law Librarians and
employees of the court cannot provide legal advice.
Secretary of State
Division of Corporation
Tallahassee FL 32304