If you can't make a scheduled hearing in small claims court, you can request to have the hearing postponed to a later date. You may also cancel a scheduled hearing if you no longer wish to sue the defendant, or vice versa. Each state has their own rules for postponing a scheduled hearing. Some states require that both parties agree to the postponement, others require that the request is made in a timely matter.
Postpone a Small Claims Hearing
Go to the court where the small claims hearing is scheduled. Ask the court clerk what is required to file a continuance. Some states, like Massachusetts and Connecticut, require that you write the defendant and ask him or her to agree to postpone the case in writing. Many states also require that you file a continuance within a specific amount of days. In California, for example, you must request this at least 10 days before the hearing date.
Request the continuance by requesting the necessary form at the court clerk's office, or submitting the request in writing to the court clerk. On the form or letter, enter your full name and contact information, and the defendant's full name and contact information, the scheduled hearing date, the case number and why the postponement is needed. If the defendant agrees to the postponement, state that information or include the defendant's agreement in writing with your letter.
Submit the continuance and pay the fee for the continuance. The fee varies per state, but is typically around $10.
Go before the judge and explain why you need a continuance, if the request is made too close to the schedule hearing date. Bring your letter or continuance form. The judge may grant the continuance for a good reason, such as illness or an emergency.
Send notice to the defendant of the postponed hearing date by mail or in person if the continuance is granted.
Cancel a Small Claims Case
Go to the court where the hearing is scheduled, and request to dismiss the case in the court clerk's office. Only the plaintiff may dismiss the case, and only if the defendant has not issued a counter-suit. However, the defendant may dismiss a counter-suit.
Complete the form to dismiss the case provided by the court clerk. Enter the plaintiff and defendant information, the case number, and sign and date the form.
Submit the form to the court clerk. There is typically no cost to dismiss a case, but the original court fees will not be refunded.