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Small Claims Court

"Small Claims Court" is a term used to describe a simplified procedure for resolving civil disputes involving amounts of $8,000 or less, exclusive of costs, interest and attorney fees. Special rules are applicable to these actions; they are called Small Claims Rules. These rules enable individuals to handle their own cases with or without an attorney. However, cases which involve small amounts often have complex legal issues. Therefore, any individual who is unsure of whether to proceed or how to proceed in a case should consult an attorney. The jurisdiction for Small Claims is the County Civil division.

Before filing your claim, you should make sure you have the proper name(s) and address(s) of the party(s) you want to sue. You should attempt to get the full name and address of an individual; for a business you will need to know the proper legal name for the business, as well as the proper owners and their addresses. If you wish to sue a corporation you need to identify the name and address of a corporate representative who is available to receive service of lawsuit papers. This information can be obtained from www.sunbiz.org.

Once you are prepared to file your claim, you should complete the Statement of Claim form, attaching invoices or other evidence of the claim. Submit the original Statement of Claim with attachments and one (1) copy of the Statement of Claim with attachments for each defendant. Read, complete, and submit the Statement of Responsibility (no copies are required).

You will have to pay a filing fee at the time you file your claim (checks for filing fees should be made payable to Gary J. Cooney, Clerk of the Circuit Court). The fee is based upon the amount of your claim. Effective July 1, 2008, the filing fees are as follows:

Amount of Claim
$.01 - $99.99
$ 100.00 - $ 500.00
$ 500.01 - $2,500.00
$2,500.01 - $8,000.00
Plus Additional Summons Fee
Filing Fee Document
$ 55.00 + Service *
$ 80.00 + Service *
$175.00 + Service *
$300.00 + Service *
Plus Additional Summons Fee

* There are several methods in which to have the defendants served with a summons to appear in court. A few of the methods are listed below; other methods of service can be researched in the Florida Rules of Court.

  1. Certified mail to defendants residing in the State of Florida only for a fee of $8.69 per defendant. If you choose this method of service, add the certified mail fee to the filing fee made payable to Gary J. Cooney, Clerk of the Circuit Court.

  2. For Lake County addresses only The Lake County Sheriff’s Office for a fee of $40.00 per defendant. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will only accept forms of payment by Business checks, Money Order, Certified check, or Cash. No personal checks accepted.

  3. An out-of-County Sheriff’s Office for addresses not in Lake County. You will need to contact the out-of-county sheriff’s office to inquire about their service fee and address. Submit the fee for the out-of-county sheriff in a separate payment made payable to that out-of-county sheriff along with a pre-addressed stamped envelope for that sheriff. Some Sheriffs’ offices do not accept personal checks. It is your responsibility to check.

  4. A private process server may be located in the telephone directory under process servers or online at www.circuit5.org. The process server will advise you of the service fee and procedures.

If the party is not served, you will be notified. You may then request the hearing be rescheduled and service attempted again. It would be your responsibility to obtain any additional information needed to insure service and to pay any additional fees required for the subsequent service.

In the event a judgment is rendered in your favor, you will receive a copy of said judgment by mail. You should be aware that our office cannot guarantee you will be able to collect on the judgment. There are some steps which you can take in an effort to collect on the judgment, including having a certified copy of the judgment recorded. This will serve as a lien against property owned by the defendant in each county in which a certified copy is recorded. You may also obtain a Writ of Execution which serves as an Order for the Sheriff to levy on property of the defendant. When any judgment has been satisfied, you will need to supply the defendant with an original Satisfaction of Judgment within thirty (30) days of payment to cancel the Judgment of Record.

For any additional information or assistance, please contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Civil Division at (352) 742-4172.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I file a Small Claims case?
  • How do I collect my money after receiving a judgment in Small Claims?

County Civil (Small Claims) Fees

Most fees may be paid by check, money order, or credit card. A 3.5% nonrefundable fee is charged by the financial service provider for each credit card transaction. If using a credit card, a photo I.D. which matches the name of the credit card holder must be presented at the time of the transaction. Payment should be made payable to Gary J. Cooney, Clerk of Court & Comptroller. In some cases, a credit card payment is not accepted.

Item Fee Amount
Small claims less than $100.00 $55.00
Small claims $100 to $500.00 $80.00
Small claims $500.01 to $2500.00 $175.00
Small claims $2,500.01 to $8,000 $300.00
Filing a claim of not more than $1,000.00 filed simultaneously with an action for replevin of property that is the subject of the claim $130.00
County Civil $8,000.01 to $15,000  $300.00
County Civil $15,000.01 to $50,000 $400.00
Removal of Tenant $185.00
Issuing each summons $10.00
Filing cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint if relief sought by party exceeds $2500.00 $295.00
Reopening a case, up to $500 $25.00
Reopening a case, greater than $500 $50.00
Additional filing fee for each timeshare estate joined in action $10.00
Additional service charge for each proceeding of Garnishment, Attachment, Replevin and Distress $85.00
Additional charge for each defendant over 5, per defendant $2.50
Filing Notice of Appeal from County Court to Circuit Court $281.00
Filing notice of Cross-appeal, Notice of Joinder, or Motion to Intervene as an appellant, Cross-appellant, or Petitioner (in cases greater than $2500.00) $295.00
For preparing, numbering and indexing an original record of Appellate Proceedings, per instrument
Clerk's Certificate $7.00
For examining, comparing, correcting, verifying, and certifying transcripts of Appellate Proceedings prepared by someone other than the Clerk, per page $5.00
From each attorney appearing Pro Hac Vice $100.00
Small Claims Court Resources
County Civil Office Location
Lake County Courthouse (CH)
550 W. Main St., 1st Floor
Tavares, FL 32778
Phone: (352) 742-4145
Fax: (352) 742-4166