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

UPDATED: Mar 1, 2012

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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