Small Claims Information
Post Judgement Information
Self-Help Small claims Web site
This site is designed to guide you
through the process of filling a small claims legal claim in
Wisconsin. It takes you through a series of questions
to create a small claims summons and complaint form.
After filling out the small claims and summons form return
to this page in order to obtain other information regarding
procedures in Dodge County.
Before starting a small
claims action it is suggested that you make a formal written
demand for payment to the other party. Send a certified
letter asking for settlement. Make it clear you intend to
take legal action if settlement cannot be reached; informing
them that all court costs will be added to the amount you
are seeking. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the other
party to contact you before commencing the action.
Small Claims actions are
filed in the county where the defendant lives or where the
action took place. Landlord/tenant disputes may be taken to
court in the county where the property lies or where the
In order to file a small
claims action, you must provide the Clerk of Courts with the
original paperwork, one copy for you to keep for your
records, and two copies for each party that you are suing.
The filing fee for a
small claims action is $94.50 and is payable upon filing the
case at the Clerk of Courts
office. Filing fees cannot be refunded if for any reason you
cannot proceed with your action. All legal questions should
be directed to an attorney. The Clerk of Courts office
cannot give legal advice. For the statutes governing small
claims actions see Chapter799 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
If your claim is for
money, it must not exceed $10,000.00 EXCEPT for a $5,000.00
limit on personal injury, tort, and third party complaints. A corporation must be
represented by an attorney or a full-time employee
authorized to act on its behalf. Failure to appear by the
plaintiff, plaintiff’s attorney or full-time employee
authorized to appear will result in a dismissal of the case.
When preparing your Summons and Complaint, if you wish to
attach any proof to your claim you must provide the
appropriate number of copies.
How to File an Answer to a Small
Pre-Judgment - Basic Steps for Filling an Answer to a
Small Claims Report:
Dodge County Small Claims
Court requires personal service of the summons and complaint
on the defendant. You may contact a private process server
or the Sheriff's Department of the County where the
defendant lives to serve your papers. Some municipal police
departments may also provide this service. Please contact
the appropriate agency for service information and costs. In
the event the person serving your paperwork is unable to
locate the defendant within the statutory time limits, you
will be provided with a certificate of non service. This
paperwork must be filed with the court and an amended
summons and complaint or intent to amend must be given to
the clerk’s office before the return date.
The $94.50 filing fee and
the fee for having the papers served will automatically be
added on to the total amount due to you if you win your
case. As the plaintiff in your case, it is your
responsibility to be sure your service has been filed.
Please telephone the clerk at 920-386-3568 to check on your
Small Claims Court return
dates are held at 8:30 am on Friday's at the Dodge County
Justice Facility, 210 W. Center Street, Juneau, WI
53039. PLEASE CHECK IN WITH THE CLERK OF COURTS
OFFICE BY 15 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR SCHEDULED HEARING TIME. PLEASE TRY TO FILE
ALL PAPERWORK BY THIS TIME. If an answer is timely
filed, neither plaintiff nor the defendant is required to
appear except in eviction cases. Please check with the clerk
any time to learn whether or not an answer has been filed
At the return date, if
plaintiff appears and defendant does not appear, a default
judgment may be granted by the court. If plaintiff and
defendant appear, a pretrial will be held to see if any
resolution can be made. If plaintiff does not appear and
defendant does appear case will be dismissed.
Some parties will enter
into a stipulated dismissal. This can happen when a written
agreement is made between the parties. The judge will
dismiss the action pending that the defendant follows
through with this signed agreement
Information on Replevin, Rocovery of Money, or Eviction.
Basic Steps for Handling Small Claims:
Case for Replevin:
Case for Recovery of
Case for Eviction:
ENTRY OF JUDGMENT:
(This is the legal
instrument you need before you can proceed with any of the
following collection steps.) You have been awarded a
judgment in small claims court. Because the court cannot
advise you in this regard, you may wish to consult an
attorney to determine which collection method you wish to
pursue. The costs indicated are subject to change. All such
collection costs are also collectible.
Within 15 days of entry
of judgment, the INDIVIDUAL you have the judgment against is
to furnish to you a financial statement. This statement will
give you information as to where this person works and/or
banks. (If you already know this information, you do not
need to proceed with a contempt action.) If the financial
statement is not completed and returned to you, a Petition
for Contempt may be filed. This form is available in the
Clerk of Courts office. All information must be filled
out accurately, including the middle initial and date of
birth. The sheriff, local police or a hired
process server in the county where the debtor resides must
personally serve the order to appear on the debtor. The
server will charge a service fee. You must also appear at
the contempt hearing scheduled before a judge. If the debtor
does not file the financial disclosure statement or appear
before the judge, a civil bench warrant can be authorized
for their arrest.
Docketing the judgment
puts a lien on any real estate transactions (in Dodge County
only.) You can request to docket the judgment at the Clerk
of Courts office. The current fee is $5.00. You can also
request a transcript of judgment to take and docket in
another county in Wisconsin for an additional fee of $5.00.
You will then need to pay the receiving county $10.00 for
receiving the transcript of judgment and docketing it. You
may request a transcript of judgment at the Clerk of Courts
Basic Steps for Docketing a Judgment for Collection:
You can request an
execution at the Clerk of Courts office. The current fee is
$5.00, however the judgment must first be docketed for a fee
of $5.00 before proceeding. An execution is a document that
authorizes the sheriff to attempt to collect the funds that
are owed to you. The sheriff will charge a service fee. The
execution is valid for 60 days. A judgment creditor may ask
the court for a Writ of Execution directing the sheriff to
seize specific, non-exempt personal property belonging to
the judgment debtor for purposes of satisfying a judgment.
You may want to obtain professional advice to decide whether
a Writ of Execution is appropriate for your case. If the
execution is returned unsatisfied or is only partially
successful, you may try another execution or any other means
Post Judgment: Basic Steps for Handling an Execution
There are two types of
garnishment actions, earnings and non-earnings. A
non-earnings garnishment (bank accounts, etc.) is valid upon
the date it is received only. (The first $1,000 is exempt
except for business accounts.) An earnings garnishment is
good for 13 weeks garnishing 20% of the judgment debtor’s
wages. However, for employees of the state of Wisconsin or
its political subdivisions, the earnings garnishment is
continued until the debt is fully paid. The appropriate
forms can be
downloaded off of the state website. The current fee is $92.50
if the amount claimed is equal to or less than $10,000, and
$210.50 if the amount claimed is greater than $10,000.
Post Judgment: Basic Steps for Handling a Small Claims
Earning Garnishment (Recovery of Judgments totaling $10,000
Basic Steps in Collecting
on a Judgment for Money:
Basic Steps in Collection
on a Judgment for Replevin:
SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT:
Once the judgment has
been paid in full, it is the responsibility of the judgment
creditor to provide a completed Satisfaction of Judgment to
the judgment debtor to file with the Clerk of Courts Office
to satisfy the judgment. The debtor must pay a satisfaction
fee of $5.00 when filing the Satisfaction of Judgment form.
The form (GF-129) is available at the Wisconsin Court System
http://www.wicourts.gov/ under “Forms.” The form is also
available at the Dodge County Clerk of Courts Office.
Frequently Asked Questions
about Small Claims Court
Q: How much can I sue for in Small Claims
A: The limit is $10,000.00 for money
judgments, replevins, attachments, garnishments and
$5,000.00 for personal injury, tort, and third party
Q: What if I need to sue for over
the limits? Can
I break it up into two small claims cases?
You're restricted to the small claims jurisdiction per
defendant. Anything over the limit amount is a large claims civil
Q: What's a replevin?
A: An action for the recovery of an item that hasn't been
paid for or been wrongfully taken.
Q: Where do I get forms to file a lawsuit?
Where do I file the case?
A: To initiate a Small Claims case,
go to the Self-Help Small Claims Website to obtain and fill
out the forms. If the case involves a consumer transaction,
it should be filed in the county where the customer lives,
or where the purchase was made, or where the collateral is
located. For other types of cases, it should be filed in the
county where the claim arose, or where the property is
located, or where the defendant lives or does substantial
Q: Do I have to hire an attorney to help me
in Small Claims Court?
A: It is your choice whether to retain an attorney.
Representation is not required.
Q: How much does it cost to file a case in
Small Claims Court?
A: Various fees must be paid, and many are subject to
change. Presently the filing fee is $94.50.
Q: What if the defendant cannot be personally
A: You must fill out an amended
summons and complaint to get a new court date. You can
then proceed with personal service again or proceed with
publication and mailing to the defendant. An affidavit
of mailing must be filed with the court along with the proof
of publication before the scheduled return date.
Q: What is a Stipulated Dismissal?
A: A stipulated dismissal is an agreement between the
parties. If the agreement is not followed, the plaintiff can
file an affidavit of default wherein the judgment can be
entered without notice to the defendant(s). Cases ending in
a stipulated dismissal are still listed in the CCAP/WCCA
Q: What is a default judgment?
A: A default judgment will be granted if the defendant
does not appear for the initial return date of if the
defendant fails to submit a written answer as so ordered by
the court after a pretrial.
Q: What happens if I lose my case?
A: If you lose altogether or don't get all the money or
property you wanted, you may take your case to the court of
appeals. The appeal fee is $195, plus a $15 record
transmittal fee. You must also pay for the preparation of
the transcript. Since an appeal is complicated, you may wish
to seek legal advice. Please see the citizens guide for
fining an appeal at:
Q: What happens if I win my case?
A: If you win a money judgment, the Small Claims Court will
order the party owing money under the decision to fill out a
financial disclosure form and send it to you within 15 days
after the judgment was filed. If the defendant doesn't pay,
you may docket the judgment at the Clerk of Courts office.
The docketed judgment then acts as a lien on the defendant's
real estate owned in Dodge County. If the defendant fails to
file the required financial disclosure form, you can ask the
court to hold the defendant in contempt. One of several ways
to try to enforce a judgment is by "garnishment."
Garnishment is an action to withhold part of a person's
wages or bank accounts to pay off the judgment. A
garnishment can be filed in Small Claims Court, just as the
original case was. Part of the judgment debtor's wages are
exempt from garnishment.
Q: Can my court costs be reimbursed if I win
A: Yes, but only some costs. You will not receive
reimbursement for lost wages or transportation but you can
receive reimbursement for the cost to file the case, the
cost to serve the summons and petition, to subpoena
witnesses, and for garnishment costs. You can also receive
limited attorney fees. Please see the table in the Guide to
Small Claims Court for the amount of reimbursement allowed
for attorney fees.
Q: What can I do about a judgment listed on
my credit report?
A: If the judgment has been satisfied, you may file a
Satisfaction of Judgment form (mandatory form GF-129) and
pay a $5.00 fee to clear the judgment.
Q: How do I get a money judgment for
A: In a nutshell:
Q: What if more than 15 days have elapsed
from the date of entry of judgment and the judgment debtor
has not returned the "Order for Financial Disclosure and
Disclosure of Assets" or paid the judgment?
File for an eviction in Small Claims court.
Win the eviction action and obtain a
Pay a $5 docketing fee to have the Small Claims Court put a
lien on person's property and pay a $5 fee for a writ of
assistance for the Sheriff to serve so you can obtain
possession of the premises.
File a motion for additional damages form with
Clerk of Courts for your additional rent and damages
within 90 days of the date that the judgment of eviction
Obtain an amended judgment for
additional expenses if your motion is granted by the court.
A: If the judgment debtor does not provide the financial
disclosure statement as required, you may petition a judge
to have the judgment debtor found in contempt of court.
Q: How do I schedule a hearing for contempt?
A: Complete the contempt form at the Clerk of Courts office.
The clerk will schedule the hearing with the next available
judge on the appropriate schedule. You must have the
defendant personally served.
Q: Do I need to appear at the contempt
A: If the debtor appears at the hearing, they will be
instructed to complete the financial disclosure form. If the
creditor does not appear at the hearing (or does not provide
proof of service), the contempt can be dismissed. If the
debtor does not file the financial disclosure statement
prior to the hearing or appear at the hearing, the judge may
issue a bench warrant.
Q: May I reopen a judgment? How?
A: A party may reopen a default judgment within 12 months.
You must file a petition to reopen (no filing fee). A hearing
will be set to consider the reasons for the request to
Q: What's a trial de novo?
A: A "trial de novo" is a retrial of a case. When a Small
Claims case is heard by a commissioner, the commissioner
will either make an oral decision at the hearing or mail a
written decision within 30 days of the hearing. The
commissioner will provide instructions for appealing a court
commissioner's decision to all parties. A party may demand a
new trial before a Circuit Court Judge (trial de novo
demand) by filing a written demand for a new trial. The
written demand must be filed within 10 working days of the
commissioner's oral decision, or within 15 days of a written
decision. The form "Demand for Trial De Novo" is available
from the Clerk of Courts office.
Q: What is earnings garnishment and how does
A: A creditor who is trying to collect an unsatisfied civil
court judgment against a debtor may start a garnishment
action to recover the money owed. This may include interest
and other costs, which are deducted from earnings payable to
the debtor. The employer, who makes payment directly to the
creditor, is called the garnishee. For example, if a court
finds that you (debtor) owe a former landlord (creditor)
back rent, the landlord can ask the court to order your
employer (garnishee) to pay part of the rent you owe
directly to the landlord. There are limits to the amount
that can be taken out of each paycheck. More garnishment
information is in the Guide to Small Claims Court.
Didn't find an answer to
your question? Contact the Clerk of Courts at 920-386-3570.