Where to file a small claims suit against an out-of-state defendant?

My boyfriend and I moved from AL to TN and signed a years lease on a house. After less than 2 months, he’s moved out and back to AL. I realize I have to sue him and although TN small claims allows a large cap, what I’ve seen so far states that it has to be filed in the county in which the defendant resides  (which is now in another state ). Can I sue in small claims here in TN where the contract was made? Do I need a lawyer and go to a higher court or do I have to follow him to AL and file there?

Asked on September 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Good question. If the factual basis for your claim against your boyfriend (or most likely former boyfriend) arose out of a lease signed for a rental in Tennessee and you claim that he breached his agreement with you over it, you can file an action against him in Tennessee (county where the agreement was entered into) if that is to your benefit.

Or, since he now resides in Alabama now, you can then file your action against him in the county where he currently resides in the State of Alabama.

I suggest that you go to the small claims court advisor in the county of Tennessee where you reside and inquire as to what is the maximum amount you can sue in the small claims court. If the maximum amount exceeds your claimed damages against the person you want to sue, file your action in that county in Tennessee.

Good luck.

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