What jurisdiction laws apply to a small claims suit filed in a county which the defendant does not reside in?

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What jurisdiction laws apply to a small claims suit filed in a county which the defendant does not reside in?

I live in one county and an ex-boyfriend has filed a small claims suit against me tin a different county. It is my understanding that the claim must be filed in the county which the defendant lives. Is this correct? What are my rights to appeal or avoid having to go to court?

Asked on March 1, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff lives or where the defendant lives or where the claim arose.  If your ex-boyfriend lives in the county where the lawsuit was filed or if that is the county where the claim arose, that court has jurisdiction.

When you are served with the summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), you will need to file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it by mail on the plaintiff within the time set forth in the summons.  If you don't timely file your answer, the plaintiff will get a default judgment against you.  That means you will have lost the case.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case will then be back on track and litigation will continue.

To avoid those problems, timely file your answer to the complaint.  The answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  The Small Claims Court may have an adviser who can help you with the appropriate forms for filing an answer to the complaint and with court procedures.  Since you live in a different county, you may be able to appear at the hearing by telephone instead of in person.  Check with the court clerk or the Small Claims Court adviser regarding a telephone appearance.  File the appropriate court form requesting a telephone appearance.  Don't miss the filing deadline for filing a request for a telephone appearance before a hearing or your request will be denied.


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