Small Claims Information

The information contained on this web page is provided as a courtesy to members of the public, and shall not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, contact the Wisconsin Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (800)-362-9082 for additional assistance.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a special court where disputes are resolved more quickly and inexpensively than in other court proceedings. The rules in Small Claims Court also are simpler and less formal.

What kinds of cases go to Small Claims Court?

The most common types of small claims cases are:

  • Claims for money: where the amount claimed is $10,000 or less
  • Claims for tort/personal injury: where the amount claimed is $5,000 or less.
  • Claims for eviction
  • Claims for replevin (return of property):
    • Non-consumer credit actions where the value of the property claimed is $10,000 or less;
    • Consumer credit transactions where the amount financed is $25,000 or less.

Less common types of small claims cases include:

  • Return of earnest money for purchase of real property
  • Action on an arbitration award for the purchase of real property
  • Eviction action due to foreclosure

Limit on Actions

Small claims are limited to actions of $10,000 and under UNLESS it is a Tort/Personal Injury, then the claim must be $5,000 or less.
If the amount sought is more than $10,000 a regular civil action must be initiated.

Where to Begin the Action

See Wis. Stat. §799.11 but generally file in the following county;

  • Where the claim arose; or,
  • Where the defendant resides; or,
  • Where the personal property involved in the action is located


The filing fee to commence a Small Claims action is $94.50. More information regarding fees can be found under How to File a Small Claims.

If the Summons and Complaint paperwork is sent via mail to file with the Clerk of Courts Office, an additional $2 mailing fee must be included in addition to the small claims filing fee and service fee, if applicable. This allows the Clerk of Courts to mail back authenticated copies of the small claims paperwork to you.

Service of Process

"Service" and "service of process" are legal terms used to describe the act of giving notice of a lawsuit or court hearing to another person.

There are several different methods and very specific time limits by which the other party must be served in Small Claims actions. The type of service required depends on the type of action being filed:

  • Service by Mail
    • Service by mail is permitted for the following case types:
      • Claim for Money only if the Defendant(s) reside in Oconto County.
      • Tort/Personal Injury only if the Defendant(s) reside in Oconto County.
      • Arbitration Award/Return of Earnest Money only if the Defendant(s) reside in Oconto County.
    • If service is to be by mail, a $2 mailing fee will be charged for each defendant.
  • Personal Service
    • You must use personal service, service by a Sheriff's Department / private process server if:
      • You are filing an Eviction action.
      • You are filing a Replevin action.
      • In any Small Claims action where the defendant(s) reside outside of Oconto County.
    • If using personal service, an Affidavit of Service must be filed with the court. If you do not have the other party served properly and do not provide proper proof of service, the Court cannot hear or decide your case.
    • If you are unable to serve the other party within the required time limits, you may write a letter to the Court requesting a different court date. You must then have the other party served with the new court date, if granted.
    • Service fees incurred may be included in the judgment amount if proof (Bill of Service) is provided to the court.
  • Publication
    • Service by Publication is a last resort in Non-Eviction actions and can only be used if you failed to have the other party served. You have a responsibility to make every effort to make personal service if possible, which includes gathering reasonably available information from family and friends to try and determine the other party's location.
    • You must obtain permission from the Court to serve the other party by publication. Service by Publication requires you to publish a Publication Summons and Notice in a newspaper that publishes legal notices in the county where the defendant(s) last resided. The publication must take place one time. Proof of Publication must then be provided to the court.

View the Small Claims Service Guide online.

View the Basic Guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions online.

For questions regarding small claims, please contact the Clerk of Courts at 920-834-6843.