How to Sue for Lack of Payment

By Jennifer VanBaren
Small claims courts handle many types of cases where people owe money to others.

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If someone owes you money and you cannot seem to collect it, you may decide to sue the person. When you sue someone for nonpayment, you must typically do this in a small claims court. Most small claims courts have a maximum amount for which you can sue someone, typically around $10,000. Most people do not sue a person for lack of payment until all attempts have been made to collect the payment and all have failed.

Visit your local courthouse. Stop in the court clerk's office and ask for the appropriate paperwork for suing someone for lack of payment. Some courts have the necessary paperwork available online, which eliminates the need to physically visit the courthouse. If the work or transaction took place in a different location, you must file the paperwork in that county, not your local county.

Complete the general information on the paperwork. The clerk will give you a paper that is most likely called a statement of claim. On this paper, you must fill out your name and address. The person suing another person is called the affiant. The person being sued is called the defendant. You must also include the defendant's name and address.

Explain the reason for suing the defendant. Be prepared to fill out why you are suing the person and the amount of the claim. This information is generally asked for on the statement of claim.

Pay the fee. After the documents are complete, give them to the clerk and pay the fee. Filing fees are generally based on claim amount and increase as the amount of the claim increases.

Notify the defendant, if necessary. Most courts take care of this step by serving the document to the defendant. In rare cases, the affiant is responsible for serving the document to the defendant. This notification contains the date and time of the court hearing. When the court sets a time, you are notified as well. Sometimes this date is set at the time you file the documents with the clerk.

Attend the hearing. Be sure to show up on the appropriate date at the right time. Have your case prepared before coming and bring any important evidence or documentation that supports your position.

About the Author

Jennifer VanBaren started her professional online writing career in 2010. She taught college-level accounting, math and business classes for five years. Her writing highlights include publishing articles about music, business, gardening and home organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.

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