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Settling out of Small Claims Court

If you agree with the full amount of the claim or a portion of it, settling small claims out of court may be in your best interest.

You can control how the debt is paid, avoid the hassles of going to court and most importantly, eliminate the dangers of a court judgment that would have allowed wage garnishment and property liens.

Mediation is one method of settling out of court and requires both parties to agree to mediate and agree on who will act as the mediator. Look for mediators in the Yellow Pages under "Attorneys - Mediation." Some serve as mediators free, while others charge a small fee - be sure to ask! Some District Courts may offer dispute resolution through a mediator at no cost so be sure to call the court clerk and ask before committing to another mediator.

If you reach an out of court agreement, put it in writing and make sure it's signed by the plaintiff and yourself and approved by the judge. File the agreement in small claims court BEFORE the trial date.

Counterclaim Plaintiffs and Defendants can file counterclaims which, if a case goes to trial both claims are resolved at the same trial. Both parties should weigh their chances of winning closely in order to decide if settling out of court is a better option.

The three primary methods of responding to any small claims court notice are: