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 $8,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees.
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.
View our Fee Schedule for a list of Small Claims filing fees.
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 $8,000.00 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 $8,000.00.
- Prepare the Statement of Claim (PDF) and the Summons (PDF) 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 defendant’s 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 the Clerk.
- 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 hearing.
- 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 filed.
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.
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