Small Claims Court in Travis County

In Travis County, Texas small claims cases are typically filed in a Justice court and heard by the Justice of the Peace. Each township in Travis County has its own Justice Court and Justice of the Peace that handles small claims cases. There are five Justice of Courts that manage small claims for all cities within Travis County.

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 Travis Court System.

Small Claims Court

The Texas Small Claims Court was established under Chapter 28 of the Texas Government Code. It shares jurisdiction with the Justice Court for cases where the amount of money involved is $20,000 or less, not including court costs. Jurisdiction refers to the court's authority to hear a case, assess its merits, and issue a valid judgment.

Small Claims Case

A small claims case is a type of lawsuit you can file in justice court when you believe someone owes you money or has your personal property. The person or company that files the lawsuit is called the plaintiff, and the person or company they are suing is called the defendant.

Reasons to File a Small Claims Case

You can file a small claims case for several common reasons:

  • Breach of Contract: If someone made a promise to you and then broke it, causing you to lose money.
  • Unpaid Debts: If someone owes you money and refuses to pay.
  • Property Damage or Injury: If someone damaged your property or caused you an injury.
  • Possession of Property: If someone has personal property that belongs to you and won't give it back.

Limit Amounts

There are certain limits and restrictions on what you can file a small claims case for:

  • Amount Limit: You can't file a case if you are trying to recover more than $10,000.
  • Property Value Limit: You can't file if the personal property you're trying to recover is worth more than $10,000. (A hearing may be needed to determine the value of the property.)
  • Real Property: You can't use small claims court to recover or obtain title to land.
  • Defamation: You can't sue for defamation, libel, or slander—this means you can't sue someone for false and harmful things they have said or published about you.

File a Small Claims Case Against

You should file your small claims case against the person or company responsible for your losses or who has your personal property. If you're suing a business that's not a corporation, check with the county clerk to find out who the owners or partners are. If the business is a corporation, you'll need the name of the registered agent, president, or vice-president. To find out the legal details about a business, you can:

  • Assumed Names Records: Check the records maintained by the County Clerk.
  • Corporation Division: Contact the Office of the Secretary of State at 512-463-5555 or visit their website.
  • State Comptroller: Call the Office of the State 1-800-252-1386.

Statute of Limitations

You need to file your claim within a specific time frame after the incident, known as the statute of limitations. For breach of contract cases, this period is four years unless the contract specifies otherwise. For most other cases, it is two years.

If you file after the statute of limitations has expired, you will lose the case. If you're unsure about the timing, it's wise to consult an attorney.

Where to File a Small Claims Case

Small claims cases are filed in a justice court and heard by the justice of the peace. You can file in any justice court in Texas, but filing in the wrong location might result in the defendant moving the case to the correct location, which could mean paying filing fees again. To avoid this, file in the correct venue from the start. Generally, the right location is:

  • The precinct and county where the defendant lives.
  • The precinct and county where the contract was to be performed (for contract cases).
  • The precinct and county where the damage or injury occurred.
  • The precinct and county where the personal property in question is located.

File a Small Claims Case

  1. Filing a Petition:
    • The first step is to file a petition, which is a form stating who you are suing, why you are suing them, how much you are suing for, and your contact information.
    • You will also need to file a civil case information sheet, indicating the type of case you are filing. The court will provide these forms.
  2. Paying Filing Fees:
    • You will need to pay a filing fee when you submit your petition.
    • Additionally, the petition and citation (the court's notice to the defendant that they have been sued) must be served to the defendant. This can be done in person or by certified or registered mail with a return receipt requested and restricted delivery.
  3. Serving the Defendant:
    • You cannot serve the paperwork yourself. You can hire a private process server or pay for the constable, sheriff, or clerk of the court to serve the paperwork. The fee for this service varies by county. Check with the court for details.
    • If you win your case, you will be reimbursed for these fees in addition to any other money you are entitled to recover.

Can’t Afford to File a Case

  • If you cannot afford the filing or service fees, you can fill out a "Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs" form, which the court will provide.
  • You must swear that the information you provide is true, and there can be legal consequences for not filling it out accurately. Complete the form honestly and thoroughly.

Need a Lawyer to File a Case

  1. Legal Representation:
    • While you can hire a lawyer for a small claims case, the process is designed to be straightforward so that you can handle it without one.
    • If you don’t have a lawyer, the judge may allow a family member or another person (who is not being paid) to assist you in court. This person can help you understand the proceedings and advise you but cannot speak for you in court.
  2. Access to Rules:
    • The court must provide you with the Rules of Civil Procedure.
  3. Court Limitations:
    • The court cannot give you advice on whether you will win, whether you should file a case, who to file against, or how to win your case or collect your judgment.

After File a Small Claims Case

  1. Keep Your Address Updated:
    • It's crucial to keep your address current with the court and the other party. This ensures you receive any important paperwork or notices.
  2. Citation Generation and Service:
    • The court will issue a citation, informing the defendant about the lawsuit.
    • The citation must then be served to the defendant. You can pay the service fee for the constable or sheriff to serve it or submit a "Statement of Inability" if you can't afford the fee. Alternatively, you can hire a private process server.
  3. Defendant's Response:
    • Once served, the defendant has 14 days to file an answer, which is their response to your lawsuit. They must also send you a copy of their answer.
    • If the defendant answers, the court will schedule your case for either trial or a pre-trial hearing.
  4. Pre-trial Hearing:
    • At a pre-trial hearing, you can address any issues such as the need for an interpreter or subpoenaing a witness.

Defendant Doesn’t Answer

  1. Default Judgment Hearing:
    • If the defendant fails to file an answer within the 14-day period, you can request a default judgment hearing. Here, you can prove to the court that you are entitled to money or personal property and request a judgment.
  2. Providing Defendant's Information:
    • To obtain a default judgment, you must provide the court with the defendant's last known address in writing.
    • Additionally, you need to submit an affidavit stating:
      • Whether the defendant is on active duty in the U.S. military.
      • If not on active duty, or if you're unsure, you need to mention that. This affidavit should also explain how you know the defendant's military status or why you couldn't determine it.
  3. Verifying Military Service:


Discovery is the process of sharing information between parties involved in a lawsuit before it goes to trial. This exchange must be approved by the judge before the other party has to provide any information or answer any questions.

1. Requesting Discovery:

  • If you have questions you want the defendant to answer, you can submit them to the court with a request for discovery. This request is called a "motion for discovery."
  • The judge will only approve "reasonable and necessary" discovery requests, so ensure your requests are relevant to the case.

2. Responding to Discovery:

  • If you receive a discovery request approved by the judge, you must respond with the requested information. If you object, the court will hold a hearing to decide if you need to provide the information.
  • Ignoring a discovery request can lead to penalties, even dismissal of your case.

3. Sending Paperwork to the Defendant:

  • Any paperwork such as motions or hearing requests must be sent to the defendant and the court.
  • You can deliver papers in person, mail them using certified or registered mail, use a delivery service like FedEx or UPS, fax them, or send them by email if agreed upon by the defendant.

4. Reaching an Agreement:

  • Parties may settle a case to avoid trial. The court can enter a judgment reflecting the agreed-upon resolution. However, specific orders like payment plans or deadlines need to be in a written contract signed by both parties.

Jury Trial:

  • Either party can request a jury trial by submitting a written request to the court at least 14 days before the trial date and paying a jury fee.
  • If no jury is requested, the trial will be heard by only the judge (a bench trial).

Postponement of Trial:

  • If you need more time or have a conflict with the trial date, file a motion for postponement or continuance at least 45 days before the trial date.

Trial Proceedings:

  • Bring all witnesses and documents to the trial. If it's a jury trial, jury selection will occur first.
  • Each side gives an opening statement, presents evidence, calls witnesses, cross-examines witnesses, and makes closing arguments.
  • The decision is made either by the jury or the judge, and a written judgment is issued.

Losing the Case:

  • If the judgment favors the defendant, you can file a motion for a new trial or appeal to the county court within specific time frames.
  • To appeal, you must file an appeal bond, a cash deposit, or a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.

Win My Small Claims Case

If the judgment is in your favor, you might not receive payment right away. The defendant could file a motion for a new trial or an appeal. If they don't, it's up to you, not the court, to enforce the civil judgment. Here are some tools you can use:

  1. Post-Judgment Discovery:
    • You can send questions to the defendant about their assets, which they must answer. This helps identify assets that could satisfy the judgment.
    • he defendant has at least 30 days to respond, and you don't need the judge's approval for this.
  2. Abstract of Judgment:
    • If the defendant owns real property (land), you can obtain an abstract of judgment from the court and file it with the county clerk where the defendant owns property. This creates a lien on their property, so if they sell it, you might receive proceeds to satisfy the judgment.
  3. Writ of Execution:
    • This is an order for the constable to seize the defendant's personal property and sell it to satisfy the judgment.
    • Note: Some personal property is exempt from seizure, so be aware of what can and cannot be seized.
    • To get a writ of execution, you apply with the court that issued the judgment at least 30 days after the judgment.
  4. Writ of Garnishment:
    • This is used when another person or company has money or property belonging to the defendant, and they are ordered to give it to you to satisfy the judgment. Usually, it's used to take money from the defendant's bank account.
    • To get a writ of garnishment, you file an application with the court, including an affidavit explaining why you're entitled to the garnishment.
  5. Important Note:
    • If the person or company doesn't have money or property belonging to the defendant, you might be responsible for their attorney fees related to their response.
    • Make sure a writ of garnishment is the best option before pursuing it.

Travis County Justice Courts: Court Costs and Fees

The cost to file a small claims case in Travis County, Texas, can vary depending on the specific court and the amount being claimed. Here is a breakdown of the typical fees:

  1. Small Claims Case Filing Fee:
    • Court Cost: $15.00
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $80.00
  2. Counterclaim Filing Fee:
    • Court Cost: $15.00
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $80.00
  3. Subpoena Duces-Tecum ($10.00 witness fee must be paid to the witness by the person who summons the witness):
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $65.00
  4. Subpoena Duces-Tecum ($10.00 witness fee must be paid to the witness by the person who summons the witness):
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $65.00
  5. Abstract of Judgment:
    • Court Cost: $5.00
    • Total: $5.00
  6. Writ of Execution:
    • Court Cost: $5.00
    • Service Fee: $75.00
    • Total: $80.00
  7. Certified Copies:
    • Court Cost: $2.00 first page
    • Service Fee: $0.25 for each additional page

For the most accurate and current fee information, it's recommended to contact the specific Justice of the Peace court where you plan to file your claim.

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

Courthouse Locations:

  1. Justice of the Peace Precinct 1

    4717 Heflin Lane, Suite 107
    Austin, TX 78721
    (512) 854-7700

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

  2. Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2

    10409 Burnet Road, Suite 180
    Austin, TX 78758
    (512) 854-4545

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

  3. Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3

    8656-A West Hwy 71, Building B, Suite 100
    Austin, TX 78735
    (512) 854-6763


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except court holidays
    • Closed for lunch 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  4. Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4

    4011 McKinney Falls Parkway, Suite 1200
    Austin, TX 78744
    (512) 854-9479

    Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except court holidays

  5. Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5

    1000 Guadalupe Street
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 854-9049


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except court holidays
    • Closed for lunch 11:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
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