Small Claims Court in Wayne County

In Wayne County, MI small claims cases are filed in the District Court. Wayne County has six District Courts 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 Wayne Court System.

Small Claims Court

Wayne County Small claims court is designed for people who want to handle their own legal disagreements without hiring a lawyer. In this court, attorneys aren't allowed. You can file a claim against someone or a business for amounts up to $6,500. In certain situations, you can also ask the judge to make someone do something (like restore your utilities) or stop doing something (like damaging your property), known as "injunctive relief."

You don't need legal knowledge to bring a case to small claims court because the judge knows the law. Just explain your side of the story in your own words. Both parties can present evidence and call witnesses. The judge carefully considers everything presented, asks questions, and then makes a final decision, which cannot be appealed by either party.

Cases Handled

The Small Claims Division handles cases where individuals, partnerships, corporations, or sole proprietors sue each other for monetary damages. Reasons may include, but are not limited to:

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

Where to file

To start your case, go to the district court office in the county where the person you're suing lives or where the issue occurred. It's crucial to file in the correct court or your case could be dismissed. You'll need to complete an "affidavit and claim form," the form can be downloaded from or obtain it from the clerk's office at the district court. Just let the clerk know you're starting a small claims case.

After filing

If you're not filling out the form at the court and plan to mail it instead, contact the court for specific instructions. They'll guide you on getting the form notarized and paying the necessary filing and service fees.

  1. Pay the court clerk the filing fee.
  2. Once filed, the court will notify the other party about your claim and the court date.
  3. Notification can be done by registered or certified mail, or you can request personal service by a process server delivering it directly to the defendant.
  4. The defendant can respond before the court date. If you opt for mailing, the court clerk can handle sending it for you for a fee.
  5. Ensure the defendant receives the summons by the deadline specified in Article 14. If they don't receive it on time, ask the court clerk to renew your claim before the deadline.
  6. Bring copies of all your written evidence—like repair bills, receipts, leases, and contracts—to the court. Keep the originals to show the judge.
  7. Give all your completed affidavit and claim forms along with copies of your evidence to the clerk. They'll staple everything together and set your court date, typically 30 to 45 days from the filing date.
  8. Ask the court clerk for the "Small Claims Court" pamphlet. It will help you prepare for your hearing and understand how to collect any money judgment if the court rules in your favor.

Court Fees

When filing your form with the court clerk, you'll need to pay a filing fee and other necessary fees, like postage. If you win your case, these fees may be reimbursed as part of your judgment. The filing fee depends on the amount you're suing for:

  • $25 if your claim is $600.00 or less.
  • $45 if your claim is between $600.00 and $1,750.00.
  • $65 if your claim is more than $1,750.00.

Additionally, the fee for serving notice to the defendant depends on how they receive the lawsuit information. It's usually cost-effective and legally valid to use certified mail for notice. If you opt for personal service (where a process server hands the form to the defendant), the court will explain the fee and payment method.

If you're in financial hardship, receiving public assistance, welfare, or social security, you can request the court to waive the filing fees for your case. To do this, you'll need to fill out a specific form called an "affidavit and order suspension/waiver of fees/costs." Submit this form to the court clerk when you initiate your case. This process allows individuals facing financial challenges to access the court system without the burden of upfront fees.


If you sue someone in small claims court, they have the right to file a counterclaim against you if they believe you owe them money or some form of satisfaction. To do this, they fill out a small claims court affidavit and claim form, marking it as a "Counter-Claim" above the usual "Affidavit and Claim" heading and referencing your case number from the court papers. They then file this form with the court.

The defendant doesn't need to pay a filing or service fee for their counterclaim, but they must send a copy of it to you, the plaintiff. During the hearing, the judge will consider both your original claim and the defendant's counterclaim. This means you'll need to be prepared to explain to the judge why your claim is valid and also why the defendant's claim is not. It's essential to have all your evidence and arguments ready for this joint consideration by the court.

Going to Court

Before heading to court and even before filing your case, it's crucial to prepare thoroughly:

  1. Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant evidence that supports your case. This includes photographs, receipts, written agreements, correspondence between you and the defendant, and any other documentation related to your dispute. Be creative but ensure everything directly relates to your case.
  2. Prepare Witnesses: Identify and prepare witnesses who can provide information or testify on your behalf. Witnesses can be friends, family members, neighbors, professionals (like inspectors or mechanics), or anyone with knowledge of your situation. Discuss with them in advance so you understand their testimony.
  3. Ensure Witness Attendance: It's vital that your witnesses appear in court on the scheduled date. Make sure they commit to attending. If there's any uncertainty, you can request a subpoena from the District Court Clerk. You'll need to pay a witness fee and mileage, and the court clerk can assist you with completing the subpoena. Do this well in advance of your court date.
  4. Practice Your Testimony: Practice what you intend to say in court. Take notes on key points you want to emphasize to the judge. Sometimes, rehearsing your story with a friend who doesn't know the details can help you refine your presentation and ensure clarity.

By diligently preparing your case, gathering evidence, organizing witnesses, and practicing your presentation, you'll be better equipped to present a strong and compelling argument in small claims court.

Fail to Appear


If the plaintiff fails to appear and only the defendant shows up, or if neither party appears, the claim will be dismissed. This judgment could impact your credit report.

If you're unable to attend court, it's crucial to inform the other party promptly and request a continuance only in cases of illness, emergencies, or unavailability of a key witness. Write a formal letter to the court's secretary or magistrate requesting the continuance well in advance—don't wait until the last minute.

If the opposing party requests a reasonable continuance, consider accepting it to avoid potential inconvenience later on. This approach may ultimately be beneficial in handling the case more effectively.


If the defendant fails to appear in court, the plaintiff has the option to request a "default" judgment. This means that if the judge finds the plaintiff's claim valid, the plaintiff can receive a judgment without a formal hearing because the defendant did not appear to contest the claim.

During the Trial

  • Dress appropriately for court—wear clean, neat clothes and avoid chewing gum. Arrive a bit early and sign in with the court clerk if required.
  • Be punctual for your court session; the judge might be late, but you shouldn't be. Bring all your evidence with you; leaving it at home won't help your case.
  • Prepare notes on what you want to say, but don't read them verbatim. Try to relax; everyone gets nervous in court.
  • Be polite to everyone, even if you think they're not being truthful. Don't interrupt, but if you believe facts are being left out or misrepresented, inform the judge respectfully. Address the judge as "Your Honor" and stand when speaking to them.
  • In court, approach the judge's bench when your case is called. If the defendant appears, the judge will ask if they agree to have the case heard in small claims court. If they do, the hearing proceeds.
  • The judge will review your case file and may ask if both parties have considered a settlement. A settlement is an agreement on how to resolve the dispute, approved by the judge.
  • If no settlement is reached, explain your side of the story to the judge. Present your evidence and let your witnesses speak. The judge will ask questions and allow the defendant to do the same.
  • Next, the defendant will present their side, including evidence and witness testimony. Again, questions will be asked by the judge and both parties.

Once both sides have spoken, the judge will make a final decision. In small claims court, this decision is binding and cannot be appealed to a higher court, though either party can request a reopening of the case from the same judge. A magistrate's decision, however, can be appealed to a district judge.


If the defendant pays you in full before the hearing, notify the court clerk immediately to inform them that the hearing is no longer necessary. The clerk may ask you to send a letter or sign a court form requesting dismissal of your case.

If you and the defendant agree on the amount owed but the defendant needs time to pay, it's wise to still obtain a judgment for protection. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Through the Hearing: Attend the hearing with the defendant and inform the judge of your agreement. The judge will then issue a consent judgment, which both parties must sign.
  2. Outside of Court: Both you and the defendant can visit the district court office together. Explain to the clerk that you've reached an agreement and wish to sign a consent judgment. The clerk will assist you in completing the form and submit it to the judge for signature. This method allows you to obtain a judgment without having to appear in court.


If you win a judgment against the defendant, the court will provide you with instructions on how to proceed with collecting the judgment. Ideally, the defendant pays the judgment and court costs immediately after the hearing. However, if they are unable to pay right away, the judge may allow them a reasonable time or set up a payment schedule.

If the defendant fails to comply with the judgment and does not pay as ordered, you'll need to return to court. You'll need to file additional paperwork to enforce the judgment, which could involve garnishing the defendant's wages or bank accounts, or seizing their property. This action can only occur 21 days after the judgment is entered. The court clerk can assist you with filling out these forms, though there will be additional filing and service fees. These costs will be added to the amount the defendant owes you, along with any applicable interest.


Don't hesitate to use small claims court if you're owed money by someone or a business. It's designed for you to seek justice. However, keep in mind that by opting for small claims court, you agree to waive certain rights:

  • You cannot have legal representation.
  • There's no jury involved.
  • The maximum claim amount is $6,500.00.
  • The judge's decision is final; you cannot appeal it.

Understanding these limitations is important, but small claims court remains a valuable option for resolving disputes without the expense and complexity of traditional litigation.

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Wayne County

Don't allow the intricacies of the legal system to discourage you from pursuing justice and compensation for your claim. With Squabble, you have a dedicated partner to streamline the process and guide you toward resolution. Whether you're contemplating filing a claim at Wayne County small claims court, Squabble is here to support you at every stage. Reach out to us today to commence your journey toward justice and compensation. Get started today and become one of the 95% of our customers who won or settled their case.

Courthouses Location:

  1. Wayne County Third Circuit Court

    2 Woodward Ave
    Detroit, MI 48226
    (313) 224-0157


    • Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except court holidays.
  2. 20th District Court - Dearborn

    25637 Michigan Ave
    Dearborn Heights, MI 48125
    (313) 277-7480


    • Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except court holidays.
  3. 24th District Court - Allen Park

    6515 Roosevelt Ave\ Allen Park, MI 48101
    (313) 928-0535


    • Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except court holidays.
  4. 28th District Court - Southgate

    14720 Reaume Pkwy
    Southgate, MI 48195
    (734) 258-3068


    • Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., except court holidays.
  5. 35th District Court - Plymouth

    660 Plymouth Rd\ Plymouth, MI 48170
    (734) 459-4740


    • Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:25 p.m., except court holidays.
  6. 36th District Court - Detroit

    421 Madison St.
    Detroit, MI 48226
    (313) 965-2200


    • Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except court holidays.
Terms of UseTerms of Privacy

© 2023 Squabble International, Inc. Patent Pending. All Rights Reserved.