Small Claims Court in Bergen County

In Bergen County, NJ small claims cases are filed in superior court. Bergen County has one superior courthouse that handles 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 Bergen Court System.

Small Claims Court

In Bergen County in New Jersey, small claims court is one part of the Superior Court's Special Civil Part. Small claims court deals with cases where the amount being claimed is up to $5,000 — that's the monetary limit for these cases. If you're seeking more than $5,000 but less than $20,000, your case should be filed in the regular Special Civil Part. Cases involving claims over $20,000 need to be filed in the Law Division of the Superior Court.

Cases Handled

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

  • Breach of a written or oral contract.
  • Return of a down payment.
  • Property damage from a motor vehicle accident.
  • Damage to or loss of property.
  • Consumer complaints regarding defective merchandise or faulty workmanship.
  • Payment for services rendered.
  • Claims involving bad checks.
  • Claims for unpaid rent.
  • Return of a tenant's security deposit, limited to $5,000 or less.

Claims that cannot be filed in small claims court:

  • Claims involving professional malpractice, such as alleged malpractice by a doctor, dentist, or lawyer.
  • Claims for support or alimony arising from marital or domestic disputes.

Where to file

  • File your complaint at the Office of the Special Civil Part in the county where at least one defendant lives or where the defendant's business operates.
  • For businesses, this includes where they conduct business or where their registered office is located.
  • If there are multiple defendants, you can file the complaint in the county where any one of the defendants lives or is located.
  • If none of the defendants reside or are located in New Jersey, file the complaint in the county where the cause of the action originated or where it began.

Note: For complaints regarding the return of a security deposit, you can file in the county where the landlord resides or where their rental property is located.

Who can file

To file a lawsuit in small claims court, the person initiating the suit must be 18 years of age or older. If the person filing the complaint is under 18 years old, their parent or guardian must file the complaint on their behalf.

Filing a Complaint

You can obtain a small claims summons and complaint form, from any New Jersey Special Civil Part office or by visiting You have the option to file the summons and complaint electronically through Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS), by mail, or in person at the appropriate Special Civil Part office.

When filing a complaint as the plaintiff, you must:

  • Provide your full name, address, and telephone number.
  • Ensure proper service of the complaint by accurately stating the names and addresses of all defendants. It's crucial to correctly identify whether the defendant is an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.
  • Specify the amount of money you are seeking in the lawsuit.
  • Explain why the defendant owes you money.
  • Disclose if there is any existing case involving both you and the other party/parties, including the court's name.
  • Sign and date the completed form.
  • Pay the required filing and service fees when submitting the summons and complaint to the Special Civil Part Office. Insufficient payments will result in the return of your documents.
  • Do not include any confidential personal identifiers in the complaint, such as full Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle plate numbers, insurance policy numbers, active financial account numbers, active credit card numbers, or information about an individual’s military status.

After Filing

  • After filing a summons and complaint in New Jersey's Special Civil Part, both plaintiff and defendant receive a trial date notification.
  • If the defendant fails to appear, the court may issue a "default" judgment, determining the amount owed by the defendant.
  • The plaintiff must provide proof of the debt and confirm the defendant's non-military status for individuals.
  • Business defendants are exempt from providing military status. Instructions for obtaining a default judgment are available at Special Civil Part offices or online at
  • For motor vehicle accident claims exceeding $500, defendants must pay within 60 days of judgment. Failure prompts plaintiffs to request the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to suspend defendant driving and registration privileges until the debt is settled.


The New Jersey Judiciary ensures individuals with disabilities can access and participate in court events by providing reasonable accommodations. To request accommodations, contact the local ADA coordinator through

For those needing court-interpreting services, notify the court promptly. Contact details are available at

Filing Fees

Filing a complaint in Special Civil in New Jersey incurs the following costs:

  • $35 for filing against one defendant.
  • An additional $5 for each additional defendant.
  • $7 fee per defendant for service by certified and regular mail.
  • For personal service by a Special Civil Part Officer: $3 reservice fee plus $7 service fee for one defendant, and $5 plus $7 service fee for each additional defendant.
  • A jury trial request fee of $100 for six jurors.

If you're unable to pay these fees, you can apply to the court to be considered indigent, potentially qualifying for a waiver of filing fees upon approval by the judge.

Preparing for the Trial


As the plaintiff, it's crucial to be fully prepared to prove your case in court. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Gather Witnesses and Records: Ensure you have all necessary witnesses and records ready for trial. Written statements, even if sworn, aren't admissible, so you'll need witnesses to testify in court about what they saw or heard.
  2. Prepare Questions: Plan your questions for witnesses in advance to ensure you present your case effectively.
  3. Organize Documentation: Bring all relevant records to court that support your claims. These may include canceled checks, sales receipts, bills, contracts, letters, photographs, and any other documents essential to your case.
  4. Settlement Consideration: If you reach a settlement agreement with the defendant before the trial, immediately contact the Special Civil Part Office to confirm and ensure the case is marked as settled.

By following these steps, you'll be well-prepared to present your case and potentially resolve the matter efficiently.


Preparing for Trial as the Defendant

If you're the defendant in a case, it's important to be prepared to present your side effectively. Here's what you should do:

  1. Gather Witnesses and Documents: Just like the plaintiff, ensure you have all necessary witnesses and documents ready for trial. These will support your defense and help you present your case to the court.
  2. Counterclaims: If you have a claim against the plaintiff as well, you must file it before the scheduled trial date. The staff at the Special Civil Part Office can guide you through the process of filing your claim.
  3. Attendance: It's crucial to attend the trial. If the plaintiff fails to attend, the case could be dismissed. Conversely, if you don't attend, a default judgment may be entered against you, potentially requiring you to pay the claimed amount.
  4. Settlement: If you and the plaintiff reach a settlement agreement before the trial date, promptly contact the Special Civil Part Court to ensure the case is marked as settled.

By following these steps, you'll be well-prepared to present your defense and handle any potential counterclaims effectively in court.

Trial Day

On the day of trial, both the defendant and the plaintiff must attend as instructed on their respective summons and notices from the Special Civil Part Office. This is unless the court notifies them otherwise. If the court is closed due to bad weather, the trial will be rescheduled.

During the scheduled trial day, the court will facilitate settlement discussions between the parties—plaintiffs and defendants—assisted by a trained settler. The goal is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement without proceeding to a formal trial. It's important to note that the settler is not a judge.

If a settlement isn't reached, the case will proceed to be heard by a judge on the same day, whenever possible. If you are the plaintiff and succeed in your case, you should refer to the "Collecting a Money Judgment" brochure, available at any New Jersey Special Civil Part Office and online at, for guidance on how to enforce the judgment in your favor.


If you disagree with the court's final decision in New Jersey, whether you're the plaintiff or defendant, you have the right to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. Here's a concise summary of the appeal process:

  1. Timeframe: File a Notice of Appeal, Request for Transcript, and Case Information Statement within 45 days from the judgment date. Submit these to the Appellate Division clerk in Trenton and provide copies to all involved parties, the Special Civil Part office, and the presiding judge.
  2. Filing Fees: Pay a $250 filing fee with the Notice of Appeal. Additionally, deposit $300 with the Appellate Division clerk within 30 days of filing. This deposit may cover costs if the appeal is unsuccessful but is refunded if the appeal succeeds.
  3. Trial Transcript: Obtain a transcript of the trial proceedings from the Special Civil Part office in the trial county. Deposit the estimated transcript cost or $300 per trial day with the Appellate Division clerk and file three copies of the transcript.
  4. Contact: For questions about the appeals process, contact the Appellate Division clerk at 609-815-2950 or seek guidance from an attorney.

Following these steps ensures you comply with the necessary procedures to appeal a court decision effectively in New Jersey.

Money after Judgment

If you've been awarded a judgment in the Special Civil Part and money is owed to you by the judgment debtor, here's what you should know:

  1. Contacting the Judgment Debtor: As a judgment creditor, reach out to the person who owes you money (the judgment debtor) to discuss payment. Payments can be made either on the day of the court hearing or over an agreed-upon period.
  2. Court Assistance in Collection: If you don't receive the owed money, the court can assist you in several ways to collect it. These methods are outlined in forms available at any New Jersey Special Civil Part Office.
  3. No Guarantee of Payment: While the court will make efforts to help you collect the debt, it cannot guarantee that the money will be paid to you.
  4. Forms and Instructions: Various forms for different collection methods are accessible at New Jersey Special Civil Part Offices. For self-represented litigants, complaint and answer packets with instructions are also available both at these offices and online at

These resources and procedures are designed to support you in pursuing the money owed to you through the court system in New Jersey.


  1. Purpose: A writ allows the Special Civil Part Officer to collect money owed from a judgment debtor's bank account or personal property, excluding real estate.
  2. Identification of Property: You must identify the debtor's personal property that can be used to satisfy the judgment. The debtor can keep up to $1,000 worth of personal property and wearing apparel.
  3. Limitation: If the debtor's personal property is valued at $1,000 or less, this method cannot be used to collect the judgment.
  4. Seizing a Vehicle: To seize a motor vehicle, you must prove it is registered in the debtor's name. Obtain a certified copy of the title and conduct a lien search with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to assess any outstanding loans.
  5. Costs: The fee for obtaining a writ is $35, plus a $7 service fee for the Special Civil Part Officer. Additional fees may apply for advertising and selling seized property.
  6. Validity: A writ is valid for two years from its issuance date, and there is no limit on the number of writs a creditor can obtain.
  7. Assignment: The Special Civil Part Officer assigned to execute the writ is determined by the court; creditors cannot choose.

This summary outlines the procedures and regulations governing the execution of writs to recover debts through specific legal means in New Jersey's Special Civil Part.

Garnishing Debtor’s Salary

  • Eligibility: You can request a wage execution if the debtor works in New Jersey and earns over $217.50 per week.
  • Application Process: Send a Notice of Application for Wage Execution to the debtor by regular and certified mail. File a copy with the Special Civil Part Office where the case was heard.
  • Debtor's Response: If the debtor objects, a court hearing will be scheduled promptly.
  • Execution Issuance: If there is no objection or the court denies it, an Order for Wage Execution is issued. The Special Civil Part Officer delivers this to the debtor's employer.
  • Employer's Role: The employer withholds part of the debtor's pay as directed by the order and sends it to the Special Civil Part Officer, who deducts a 10% commission and forwards the remainder to you.
  • Fees: Costs include a $35 fee for the execution and a $7 fee for service to the employer by the Special Civil Part Officer.
  • Resources: Self-represented litigants can access a packet on How to File a Wage Application at any New Jersey Special Civil Part Office or online at

This summary outlines the key steps and requirements for garnishing a debtor’s wages to collect a debt through New Jersey's Special Civil Part.


  1. Purpose: An information subpoena is used to find out where the debtor has bank accounts, what property they own, or where they work when this information is unknown.
  2. Obtaining the Subpoena: Obtain an information subpoena from any New Jersey Special Civil Part Office or online at
  3. Serving the Subpoena: Serve the debtor with an original and copy of the subpoena personally or by registered/certified mail with return receipt requested, and also by regular mail. Include a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for the debtor's response.
  4. Response Time: The debtor must answer within 14 days of being served. Failure to respond may result in court sanctions for contempt.
  5. Frequency: You can only serve an information subpoena once every six months without court approval.
  6. Enforcement: If the debtor doesn't fully respond within 21 days, you can apply to the court with a certification for an order to subpoena banks, employers, or other entities holding debtor's funds or assets.
  7. Additional Steps: Serve these subpoenas in the same manner, and non-compliance by recipients may also lead to court-enforceable sanctions.
  8. Resources: Self-represented litigants can obtain guidance on How to File a Motion to Enforce Litigants Rights from any Special Civil Part Office or online at

This summary provides an overview of the process and guidelines for using an information subpoena effectively to locate and gather information about a judgment debtor's assets in New Jersey's Special Civil Part.


  1. Purpose: The Court Order for Discovery allows you to petition the court, stating the amount owed on a judgment, to compel the debtor or others with knowledge of the debtor's assets to answer questions about those assets at a specified time and place.
  2. Filing Process: File a petition with the court detailing the judgment amount and requesting the issuance of a discovery order.
  3. Service of Order: Serve a copy of the discovery order to the debtor or relevant individuals personally, or by registered/certified mail with return receipt requested, and also by regular mail. The debtor must receive the order at least 10 days before the appearance date.
  4. Appearance Requirement: The debtor or named individuals must comply with the order by appearing at the designated time and place to provide information about the debtor's assets.
  5. on-Compliance Consequences: Failure to comply with the court order, such as by not appearing or providing required information, may result in contempt sanctions enforceable by the court.

This summary outlines the procedural steps and requirements involved in utilizing a Court Order for Discovery to obtain information about a judgment debtor's assets in New Jersey.

Collect an Out-of-State Judgment

  1. Full Faith and Credit: Under Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution, an out-of-state judgment is recognized and enforceable in New Jersey. You can enforce it by docketing the judgment with the Clerk of the Superior Court in Trenton. This creates a lien on any real estate owned by the debtor in New Jersey.
  2. Sheriff’s Office: To pursue other collection efforts beyond real estate, contact the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the debtor has assets.
  3. Special Civil Part: For judgments of $20,000 or less, file a complaint with an exemplified copy of the out-of-state judgment attached at the Special Civil Part Office in the county where the debtor resides or is located. The office will provide details on applicable fees and further procedures.
  4. Execution: Follow the guidelines provided by the Special Civil Part Office to execute the judgment and collect the owed amount.

This summary outlines the essential steps and legal provisions for enforcing an out-of-state judgment in New Jersey, ensuring compliance with constitutional mandates and procedural requirements.

Settlement and Satisfaction of Judgment

  1. Settlement Before Trial: If a case is settled before reaching trial, the plaintiff must file a stipulation of dismissal with the Special Civil Part. This document officially ends the case without a trial.
  2. Satisfaction of Judgment: When a judgment is paid, whether with or without the assistance of a Special Civil Part officer, the plaintiff is responsible for filing a warrant of satisfaction with the Special Civil Part Court. This document serves to officially acknowledge that the judgment has been satisfied and is no longer outstanding.

These procedures ensure that legal matters are properly concluded and documented in the Special Civil Part of New Jersey, whether through settlement agreements or the fulfillment of judgments.

Courthouse Location:

Bergen County Justice Center

10 Main Street
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
(201) 221-0700


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

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Bergen 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 Bergen 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.

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