Small Claims Court – sounds like a good idea, right? Well, maybe. Consider this:

You can only get a judgment if you know where the debtor lives or works

After all, either you or the court bailiff must serve the debtor with a copy of the complaint that you file with the court. If the debtor moves, you may not have any way of finding out where the debtor moved. We are a very transient society. People move daily. Your debtor may be on the move. Once you file a complaint with the court, the court clerk signs the complaint and the summons. These documents are only good for 90 days. If the summons expires, you just threw out good money after bad.

If you do get a judgment, you can only collect on it if you know where your debtor works or if he owns assets

In order to collect on your judgment, you have to know something about your debtor’s assets. You have to know either where he works or banks. If you have this information you can fill out a garnishment to take some of his wages or the money in his bank account. However, if you do not file the garnishment against the correct entity or do not serve it properly, your efforts will be wasted and the judgment will go unsatisfied.

Once you get a judgment, you can never use a collection law firm to help you collect.

The rules in Small Claims Court are clear on this point. Once you obtain a judgment on a small claims matter, no attorney can intercede on your behalf to help you collect. The reality of this is that you cannot obtain a credit report on your debtor or get any help locating the debtor’s assets. If you are having a hard time collecting this judgment, then you might as well use the judgment for wall paper.

Your best alternative, before going into Small Claims Court, is to seek the advise of a collection attorney. He can advise you as to whether your matter appears to be collectible for not. Furthermore, he may even be able to file the lawsuit himself and thereby significantly increase your chances of collection.


Small Claims Court may give you the opportunity to have your proverbial day in court. If you are pursuing this case for the principal of the matter, you are probably doing the right thing. However, if you are trying to collect money that you are owed, you may be making a mistake. Consult with a collection attorney before you file this lawsuit. It may be the difference between a judgment that collects dust and one that collects money.

Kevin M. Taylor is an attorney that specializes in debt collection. He is the founder of Kevin M. Taylor, P.C., Collection Attorneys. Kevin M. Taylor, P.C. has been collecting debts for large and small business for the past 15 years. Kevin M. Taylor, P.C. is at 24901 Northwestern Hwy #306, Southfield, MI 48075. For more information call (248) 223-1999 or visit us at