Small Claims Court in Cobb County

In Cobb County, GA small claims cases are typically filed in the Magistrate Court. Cobb County has one Magistrate Courthouse that handle small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the Cobb Court System.

Small Claims Court

At the Cobb County Magistrate Small Claims Court, they deal with money disputes involving amounts under $15,000. When you have a case there, a Magistrate judge will hold a casual hearing to listen to both sides and make a decision.

You don't need a lawyer to file a claim in this court, but you can have one if you want, although you'll have to pay for it yourself. The court doesn't provide lawyers for these kinds of cases. Whether you're an individual or a business, you can be sued or file a lawsuit.

Cases Handled

Small Claims Court deals with various situations where you can file different cases. For instance:

  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Personal Injury
  • Stolen Property
  • Damaged Property
  • Debt Collection
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

Cases that cannot be Handled

There are specific types of cases that cannot be filed in Magistrate Court, regardless of the amount being sought in recovery. These include:

  1. Divorce and Family Matters: Magistrate Courts do not have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, or any other family law matters.
  2. Cases Involving Real Estate Ownership: Magistrate Courts cannot adjudicate cases where the determination of legal ownership of real estate is required.
  3. Injunctions: Magistrate Courts are not empowered to issue injunctions. An injunction is a court order directing a party to take or refrain from taking a particular action, such as repairing or returning property.

In these instances, parties must seek resolution through the appropriate legal channels, such as Family Court for family matters, higher courts for disputes involving real estate ownership, and courts that have jurisdiction over injunctions. Magistrate Courts are limited in their scope and authority, focusing primarily on smaller civil claims and certain criminal matters within their jurisdictional limits.

Who may file a claim

To properly file a claim or have a claim filed against you, it's essential to understand the roles of the Plaintiff and Defendant and to correctly identify the parties involved. Here's a breakdown based on different scenarios:

  1. Individuals:
    • If the party is an individual, designate them by their legal name.
    • For minors (under 18 years old), if they are the Defendant, they can be sued directly or through their parent or legal guardian. If they are the Plaintiff, they must be represented by their parent or legal guardian in the lawsuit.
  2. Businesses:
    • Sole Proprietorship: Owned by one person, not incorporated. Designate the individual owner's name, possibly along with any trade name used (if applicable).
    • Partnership: Owned by two or more persons, not incorporated. Designate the names of the partners.
    • Corporation: A separate legal entity from its owners. Designate the legal name of the corporation. Ensure you have accurate information about the corporation's registered office location and the name and address of the Registered Agent.

It's important to ensure that you name the proper parties in your claim or lawsuit. Failure to do so may result in an unsatisfactory judgment. If you need information about a corporation, you can contact the Georgia Secretary of State. By correctly identifying the parties involved, you can initiate or respond to legal proceedings accurately and effectively.

How to File

To start the process of filing a small claims case, you'll need to fill out two forms:

  1. The Statement of Claim Form
  2. The Sheriff's Entry of Service Form

When filling out legal forms to sue someone or a business, you'll need to provide details like their name, address, the amount of money you're seeking, and the reasons for your lawsuit.

You have a few options: you can represent yourself, act for your company, or file on behalf of a minor if you're their guardian. But remember, if you're not a lawyer, you can't represent someone else. Make sure to include your own name, address, and phone number on the form. This is crucial because the court will use this to contact you about your hearing.

Keep your contact info up to date, or your case might get dismissed if the court can't reach you. Also, make sure you're suing the right entity. If it's an unincorporated business, you can sue the person behind it and the business name, as long as they live in the county. For corporations, you sue the corporation itself, not its employees. File the lawsuit where the business operates or where it's incorporated. You can find out if a business is incorporated and get more details from the Secretary of State's office or their website. (

Where to file

If you're suing an individual, they need to live in Cobb County. If it's a business, it either has to be based in Cobb County or have a registered agent located there. And if it's a sole proprietorship, the owner must be a Cobb County resident.

You have the option to file your claim either online or by mail to the Magistrate Court of Cobb County.

If you're dealing with a defendant who lives outside of Georgia, it's typically best to file your claim in the state where they reside. For these cases, it's a good idea to seek advice from an attorney who can guide you through the process.

Filing Fees

When you're suing someone, there are fees you'll need to cover: a filing fee and a service fee. These costs can vary depending on the county. For instance, in Cobb County, the Sheriff's Department is responsible for serving the defendant with the Complaint and Summons.

Here's a basic breakdown: if you're suing one defendant, you'll pay one filing fee and one service fee. If there are two defendants, you'll still pay just one filing fee but two service fees, and so on.

It's worth noting that filing fees are determined by the Georgia State Legislative body and may change over time. You can find the current fees on the Fees and Forms page.

Procedures for Filing

To file a Statement of Claim in Magistrate Court, the Plaintiff needs to follow these procedures:

  1. Prepare the Statement of Claim: This sworn statement should outline the charges against the Defendant, providing a clear explanation of why the lawsuit is being brought. Include essential details such as the complete name, address, and phone number of the Plaintiff (and their attorney if applicable), as well as the complete name and street address of the Defendant. Also, specify the damages sought and provide a brief statement explaining the basis for the lawsuit, including relevant dates.
  2. Include Supporting Documents: Attach copies of all relevant documents, such as contracts, receipts, canceled checks, or any other evidence that supports the Plaintiff's claim. It's important to keep the original documents for your records.
  3. File Electronically or In-Person: The Plaintiff can choose to electronically file the Statement of Claim at public access terminals locations. Alternatively, they may appear in person at the office of the Clerk of Magistrate Court at the same location to have the statement sworn or affirmed by a Clerk or notarized.
  4. Pay Attention to Service Address: Ensure that the address for service is in Cobb County. The Marshal's Department will not issue a refund for service fees if they determine that the service address is within Cobb County.
  5. Seek Assistance from the Clerk: The Clerk of the Magistrate Court can provide necessary forms and assistance with the electronic filing process. However, they cannot offer legal advice regarding whom to sue or the likelihood of winning the case.

By following these steps, the Plaintiff can initiate the legal process in Magistrate Court and begin the resolution of their dispute.

Filing in the wrong court

If a case is filed in Magistrate Court but it is determined that the court does not have jurisdiction over the matter or that the venue is improper, several actions will be taken:

  1. Transfer to Appropriate Court: The case will be transferred to a court that does have jurisdiction and proper venue to handle the matter. This ensures that the case is heard in the appropriate legal setting.
  2. Transfer Order: An order will be issued by the Magistrate Court, formally transferring the case to the appropriate court. This order will specify the new court where the case will be heard.
  3. Transfer Fee Requirement: The transfer order may include a requirement for the party who filed the case in the wrong court to pay a transfer fee. This fee is typically due within a specified timeframe, often twenty (20) days from the date of the transfer order.

By transferring the case to the appropriate court, the legal proceedings can continue in the proper jurisdiction, ensuring that all parties receive fair and just treatment under the law.


When the court issues a judgment, it means they've determined that one party owes the other a specific amount of money. However, it's important to understand that a judgment isn't like cash you can pick up from the Clerk of Court, nor does it include a specific deadline for payment.

Instead, a judgment gives you certain rights to pursue collection of the money owed through the legal system. This might involve actions like garnishing wages, seizing assets, or other legal methods to enforce payment.

Post- Judgment

After a judgment has been made, there are procedures for enforcing it. One such procedure is the issuance of a writ of fi.fa. This document is issued by the County Clerk’s Office and serves two purposes:

  1. It records a lien on the property of the judgment debtor.
  2. It authorizes the Sheriff to seize the debtor's assets.

If the judgment was given as a default, a writ of fi.fa. can be issued right away. However, if the case was contested, there's typically a 10-day waiting period after the judgment date. This writ can also be used to establish a lien on any vehicles owned by the debtor, but there's a specific process for doing so.


Garnishment is a legal way to collect money from someone who owes you. It involves getting the money from another party, called the garnishee, who either owes money to the person you're trying to collect from or holds their funds.

When you file for garnishment, it happens in the county where the garnishee is based. This allows you to access the money they owe to the person you're trying to collect from.

Continuing garnishment is used when the person you're collecting from earns a wage. Over 180 days, a portion of their wages is taken out every 30 days until the full amount is collected or until the 180 days are up. This process is filed in the county where the garnishee, usually the person's employer, is located. It's a way to steadily collect the money owed from the person's wages.

Post Judgment Interrogatories

Post-Judgment Interrogatories are a way to find out what assets, if any, the judgment debtor has to fulfill their debt. This process typically involves several steps:

  1. Filing and Serving Interrogatories: The cost is $10.00 per defendant. After filing, a copy is given to the filing party to send to the other party via certified mail. The green card confirming receipt must be returned to the Court.
  2. Motion to Require Answers: If the Interrogatories aren't answered within 30 days, the judgment creditor must file an Affidavit and Motion to Require Answers, serving it via certified mail.
  3. Court Order for Answers: If the judgment debtor fails to appear at the hearing, the court may issue an Order requiring them to answer within 10 days. This is served by the Sheriff’s Department.
  4. Motion to Invoke Sanction of Contempt: If there's no response to the Court Order, the judgment creditor must file a Motion to Invoke Sanction of Contempt, served personally by the Sheriff’s Department. A copy of the previous order is also served.
  5. Order for Incarceration: If the judgment debtor still doesn't comply, or lacks a valid reason for not answering, the Court may order their incarceration until they answer the Interrogatories.

These steps outline the process, but it's important to note that this is just an overview. If you encounter difficulties in collecting your judgment, seeking legal counsel may be advisable.


After being served with a civil claim, the Defendant has a window of thirty (30) days to respond by electronically filing an answer. Failure to do so within this timeframe results in the Defendant being in default. However, there's a brief grace period from the 31st to the 45th day where the Defendant can still file an answer electronically, albeit with the requirement of paying court costs.


The Defendant also has the option to electronically file a counterclaim against the Plaintiff in Magistrate Court if the counterclaim pertains to the Plaintiff's original charge and the total monetary claims of the Defendant remain under $15,000. Counterclaims are typically addressed concurrently with the Plaintiff's claims, and if the Judge rules in favor of the Defendant on a counterclaim, they may be entitled to collect damages from the Plaintiff.


In case the Defendant fails to file an answer within the 45-day period, the Plaintiff can request a default judgment by electronically filing a Request for Default with the Clerk of Magistrate Court via eFileGA. This mechanism allows the legal process to move forward even in the absence of a response from the Defendant.

Before the Hearing

Before the scheduled hearing date, both parties should take the following steps:

  1. Collect Documents: Gather all documents relevant to your case that support your claims. Make extra copies of these documents for both the judge and the opposing party. This ensures that all parties have access to the necessary evidence during the proceedings.
  2. Contact Witnesses: Reach out to any witnesses who have agreed to testify on your behalf and inform them of the hearing date, time, and location. Ensure that they are aware of their role and availability to attend the hearing.
  3. Subpoena Documents or Witnesses: If necessary, subpoena documents or summon witnesses to appear in court. A subpoena is a legal command issued by the court that compels a person to testify or produce evidence. You can obtain a subpoena from the clerk of the magistrate court. If there are specific documents or witnesses critical to your case and they are unwilling to cooperate voluntarily, a subpoena can compel their attendance or the production of evidence.

By completing these tasks before the hearing, both parties can ensure that they are adequately prepared to present their case before the judge and that all relevant evidence and witnesses are available to support their arguments.

Procedure of a Hearing

The procedure for a hearing in Magistrate Court typically follows these steps:

  1. Mediation (if applicable): Some cases may be referred to mediation before proceeding to a formal hearing. Mediation allows the parties to attempt to settle the case without a hearing. If the parties reach a settlement agreement, they may avoid the need for a hearing altogether. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, the case will proceed to a formal hearing.
  2. Courtroom Procedure Instructions: Prior to the hearing, the judge will provide instructions to both parties about courtroom procedure. This may include guidelines on presenting evidence, questioning witnesses, and making arguments.
  3. Presentation of Arguments: During the hearing, both the plaintiff and the defendant will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence to the judge. They may question or dispute each other's testimony and evidence.
  4. Judicial Decision: After both parties have completed their presentations, the judge will make a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented. The judge may grant monetary damages to either the plaintiff, the defendant, or both parties, depending on the merits of the case.
  5. Consequences of Non-Appearance:
    • If the plaintiff fails to appear in court on the day of the hearing, the judge may allow the defendant to present testimony and issue a judgment without hearing from the plaintiff. Alternatively, the judge may postpone the case to a later date or dismiss it.
    • If the defendant fails to appear in court on the day of the hearing, the judge may grant a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Overall, the hearing process in Magistrate Court is designed to provide both parties with an opportunity to present their cases and seek a resolution to their dispute in a fair and impartial manner.


Once the Defendant electronically files an answer, the court will schedule a hearing and notify both parties of the date, time, and location. During the hearing, both parties have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. When appearing in court for your case, it's crucial to bring the following:

  1. Witnesses: Bring any individuals who have direct knowledge of the facts relevant to your case. These witnesses can provide testimony to support your claims and strengthen your case.
  2. Documents: Gather all relevant documents that support your case. This may include contracts, agreements, receipts, invoices, bills, correspondence, or any other written evidence. Ensure that you have both the original documents and any copies necessary for presentation in court.
  3. Photographs: If applicable, bring photographs that provide visual evidence relevant to your case. This could include images of property damage, injuries, or any other visual evidence that supports your claims.
  4. Physical Evidence: If there are any physical items or samples relevant to your case, such as damaged property, defective products, or other physical evidence, bring them to court. These tangible items can help the court better understand the circumstances of your case.
  5. Preparation: Lastly, come prepared to present your case effectively. Review your evidence beforehand, organize your documents and materials, and be ready to articulate your arguments clearly and concisely before the judge.

By bringing witnesses, relevant documents, photographs, physical evidence, and being adequately prepared, you can present a compelling case in court and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.


In some cases, the court may opt for mediation before the scheduled hearing. Mediation allows the parties to attempt to resolve the matter outside of court with the assistance of a court-appointed mediator, at no additional cost. If an agreement cannot be reached during mediation, the court will proceed to set a hearing date, and the case will be presented before the judge.


If either party intends to bring witnesses to the hearing, they should ensure that those witnesses are present. Written statements may not be accepted as evidence. If assistance is needed to secure the attendance of witnesses, a request for a subpoena form should be completed and submitted to the Clerk of Magistrate Court along with the required fee. This ensures that witnesses are compelled to appear in court to testify.

Statement of Claim

After the defendant is served with the Statement of Claim, they have thirty (30) days from the date of service to file an answer with the court. The counting of days starts from the day after the date of service, with the thirtieth (30th) day deadline adjusted if it falls on a day when the court is closed, such as a weekend or legal holiday. In such cases, the answer would be due on the next open day.

Default Judgment

If the defendant fails to file an answer within the prescribed time frame, the plaintiff can request a default judgment. A default judgment occurs when the defendant does not respond to the plaintiff's claims or fails to appear at the hearing. In such instances, the judge may proceed to hear and decide the case based solely on the plaintiff's submissions. If granted, the default judgment entitles the plaintiff to the specified amount of money damages sought in the suit, plus court costs. If non-monetary damages are claimed, a separate hearing may be necessary to determine their value.

However, the defendant still has an opportunity to "open the default" within fifteen (15) days after the initial thirty (30) days have elapsed by filing an answer and paying court costs. This mechanism allows the defendant to rectify their failure to respond within the initial time frame.

Courthouse Location:

Cobb County Magistrate Court

Cobb County Courthouse

32 Waddell Street, 3rd Floor
Marietta, GA 30090
(770) 528-8900


  • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except court holiday

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Cobb County

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