Small Claims Court
The Paulding County Magistrate Court is also referred to as small claims court. You can file a claim for which you are seeking $15,000 or less. If your claim exceeds $15,000 principal, the Magistrate Court does not have jurisdiction (the legal authority) to hear your case, and it must be filed in another court; such as, Superior Court. This limit applies to both the claim of the Plaintiff and any counterclaim of the Defendant. Interest and court costs do not affect the jurisdictional amount.
Certain types of cases cannot be filed in Magistrate Court, regardless of the amount in recovery being sought, such as, divorce and family matters and any case in which the Court would be called upon to decide who is the legal owner of real estate. Furthermore, the Magistrate Court cannot issue an injunction, which is an order directing a party to take some action such as repairing or returning property.
The party who files a claim is referred to as the "Plaintiff." The party who is sued is referred to as the "Defendant." A claim must designate the proper Plaintiff(s) and Defendant(s). The determination of the proper party will depend on whether the party is a person or a business and how that business is set up. Failure to name the proper parties may result in an unsatisfactory judgment.
Individuals - If the party is a person, you should designate that party by his or her legal name.
Businesses - If the party is a business, you must name the proper legal entity. The proper legal entity is determined by how the business is set up. You can contact the Georgia Secretary of State at 404-656-2817.
You must file your case in the County in which the Defendant (the party you are suing) resides. This requirement is referred to as "venue."
Individual - For an individual, venue is the County of the person's legal residence.
Businesses - The type of business determines the proper venue for a business named as the defendant. For a sole proprietorship, the suit should be filed in the county in which the owner of the business resides. For a partnership, the suit should be filed in the county in which at least one of the owners resides. For a corporation, the suit should be filed in the county where the corporation has designated its registered office with the Secretary of State’s Office.
To start the process of filing a small claims case, you must first fill out a Statement of Claim Form. On this form, you will enter the name and address of the person or corporation you are suing, state the exact amount of money you are suing for, and explain why you are suing. You may represent yourself, act as an agent for your corporation, or you may sue on behalf of a minor should you be the guardian. However, you cannot represent someone else if you are not an attorney. Remember that you must sue a corporation in the county where it is doing business or where it is incorporated. You may also sue a corporation in the county where the registered agent is located. (The registered agent is the party that should be served for the corporation.)
If you are suing someone, you must pay a filing fee and a service fee. Court costs are county specific. The Paulding County Sheriff’s Department must serve the Complaint and Summons. (Example: sue one Defendant - you pay one filing fee and one service fee; two Defendants - you pay one filing fee and two service fees, etc.). At the Judge's discretion, if you win the case, the defendant typically reimburses the court costs.
What are the fees to file a Statement of Claim at the Paulding County Magistrate Court?
The filing fee for service on one defendant is $101, for each additional defendant (service) there is a fee of $50.
Filing fees are set forth by the Georgia State Legislative body and are subject to change.
Employees of the Magistrate Court of Paulding County, including Judges themselves, are prohibited by law from providing legal advice at any time during your contact with the Court. If you have questions about your legal rights, legal remedies available to you, or what legal documents to file, you must contact an attorney.