Terminology:

  • Defendant: The party being sued by the plaintiff.
  • Eviction: An action by a landlord to remove a tenant from the landlord’s property.
  • Plaintiff: The party who commences the lawsuit.
  • Replevin: A lawsuit seeking the return of property.
  • Return Date: The initial appearance in court.
  • Service: The delivery of the summons and complaint or other papers filed by one party to another party.

Limit On Actions: Small claims are limited to actions of $10,000 and under. 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;

  1. Where the claim arose; or,
  2. Where the real or tangible personal property involved in the action is located; or,
  3. Where the defendant resides or does substantial business; or,
  4. If none of the above apply, in a county selected by the plaintiff.

Filing Fee & Service By Mail: Fees payable to the Clerk of Courts are the filing fee of $94.50 and, if service is to be by mail, $2 per defendant if regular mail or $8 per defendant for certified mail.

Service By Sheriff Or Private Process Server [§801.10(4)(a)] Must Be Used If :

  1. You are filing an eviction action.
  2. You are filing a replevin action.
  3. The defendant lives outside Marathon County.

Service By Process Server or Sheriff: A Process Server or Sheriff can serve the defendant(s). The Sheriff's Department requires $75 for service fees. Within 30 days the original Affidavit of Service and a copy of the invoice must be filed with the court or the case will be dismissed.

COMPLETING THE SUMMONS & COMPLAINT

The Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the person filing the case. Fill in your name and address in the space provided.

The Defendant(s): The person sued is the defendant. Fill in the defendant's correct name and address in the space provided.

Case Number: Leave this space blank. The Clerk of Courts Office will assign a case number. The case number is very important. If you have concerns regarding your case, you will need to know your case number.

When To Appear (a/k/a The Return Date): Leave this space blank. The Clerk of Courts Office will fill in the date and time. The return date is when the case is first called and is held Wednesday mornings at the:

MARATHON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
500 FOREST ST.
WAUSAU, WI 54403

Plaintiff's Demands: ( Choose one of the following)

Claim Under Dollar Limit 31001: A Claim Under Dollar Limit is a claim for money of $10,000.00 or less.

Replevin 31003: A Replevin is for the return of property filed by the owner or person entitled to the property.

Eviction 31004: An eviction is filed by a landlord to remove a tenant(s) from physical possession of a rented property.

Arbitration Award 31006: Actions relating to confirmation, vacation, modification or correction of arbitration award is filed under “Arbitration Award”.

Item #2: Explain what you are asking for and why you believe you should receive it. The court will automatically include your filing and service fees if you prevail (win your case). These fees should not be included in your demand. The court will decide if you are entitled to pre-judgment interest. The plaintiff is responsible for calculating interest on any judgment awarded.

Signatures: Sign the summons and complaint under signature of Plaintiff/Attorney and the verification in the presence of a notary. You will need a picture ID for the notarized signature.

File the original summons and complaint together with one copy for your records and a copy for each defendant (Note: The Sheriff or a private process server requires one extra copy per defendant) to the Marathon County Clerk of Courts:

SMALL CLAIMS COURT
MARATHON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
500 FOREST ST.
WAUSAU, WISCONSIN 54403

If you mail the original and copies to the Clerk of Courts Office, include a self-addressed stamped envelope for your copy to be returned to you.

A completed Declaration of Non-military Service (Form No. GF-175) is required to be filed for each defendant (not needed for a business).

COURT APPEARANCES

The Return Date: Both plaintiffs and defendants must appear at the return date. If the plaintiff does not appear the case will be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear, or if the defendant does not contest the action, a judgment will be entered in favor of the plaintiff. If the plaintiff and defendant appear and the defendant contests (disputes) the action, both parties will immediately meet to quickly discuss the issues in the case and attempt to reach a settlement. If the case cannot be settled at the return date it will be set for a trial.

Settlement Before Trial: If the case settles out of court, the plaintiff must notify the court in writing that the case has settled so all future hearings can be canceled.

EVICTION ACTIONS

If a defendant does not contest the eviction, the plaintiff will be entitled to a writ of restitution. If the defendant contests the eviction, the eviction trial shall be set for the following week with the duty judge.

Writ of Restitution: A writ of restitution directs the sheriff to remove the defendant from the property. The fee for a writ is $5.00. The Sheriff’s Department must serve the writ of restitution.

Trials on Damages: Will occur approximately 30 days after the eviction hearing date. The damage hearing date will be scheduled at the time of the return date. Upon being restored to the premises, landlords seeking damages above and beyond those stated in the original petition shall file an amended petition and have the respondent served by first class mail, certified mail – return receipt requested, or personal service. This service shall occur at least five (5) days prior to the trial on damages or the landlord will be limited to the amount of damages originally claimed in the complaint. When filing your amended petition, allow time for service.

TRIAL TO THE COURT

The Court Trial: Cases not settled are tried before a Judicial Court Commissioner. Most often trials will be held during the week following the return date. Be punctual since a case can be dismissed or a default judgment entered upon a failure to appear. Report to the courtroom immediately upon arriving at the courthouse.

Evidence At Trial: Bring all evidence and witnesses to the trial. Evidence left at home and affidavits of witnesses cannot be used as the basis of any decision entered by the court.

ENFORCING A JUDGMENT

Generally: A party awarded a judgment is responsible for enforcing collection--NOT THE COURT. Any judgment can be docketed for a $5 docketing fee paid to the Clerk of Courts Office and will become a lien on the judgment debtor's property.

Financial Disclosure Form: The judgment debtor will be sent a financial disclosure form that must be completed and returned to the judgment creditor (not the court) within 15 days. Failure to do so permits the judgment creditor to commence a contempt proceeding that may result in a sentence to jail.

Garnishment: One method of collection is to garnish the wages or bank accounts of the judgment debtor. This information is part of what must be disclosed in the financial disclosure form. The filing fee is $92.50 and may last as long as 13 weeks. Garnishment actions must be filed in the county where the garnishee resides or, if not a resident of this state, the county of the original action.  The State Bar of Wisconsin published a booklet: 21 Questions Employers Ask About Earnings Garnishment. To obtain a copy of this booklet, contact the State Bar of Wisconsin at (608)257-3838.

Execution: Another collection method is to seize the non-exempt property of the judgment debtor and sell it through execution. However, this is a more complex procedure best done with the services of an attorney.

SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT

The "Satisfaction of Judgment" form needs to be completed by the creditor (the party who received the money) when the judgment is considered paid in full. Once completed, the satisfaction form can be filed by the debtor (the party who paid the money owed) or the creditor along with a $5.00 fee.

INTERNET RESOURCES

Internet users can search for circuit court cases & judgments at the WCCA website.

Addition information on Replevins are located at this website.

Internet users can obtain the standard circuit court forms from the Wisconsin Court System website.

The "Guide to Small Claims".

Landlord/Tenant Resource Center website.

Landlord & Tenant Information Provided In The “WI Courts” (Wisconsin Statutes) website.

For Legal Advice, Call
1-800-362-9082