Small Claims Court FAQ
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What can I do to resolve my problem without going to small claims court?
5. What can I do to resolve my problem without going to small claims court?
If you want what's owed to you, but you don't want to take on the trouble of bringing a lawsuit, you have a couple of options to consider. First, make a demand in the form of a straightforward letter, concluding with the statement that you'll file in small claims court in ten days unless payment is promptly received. For more information, see Demand Letters: The Basics.
In addition, many states offer community- or court-based mediation designed to help parties arrive at their own compromise settlement with the help of a neutral third party. Mediation works best where the parties have an interest in staying on good terms, as is generally the case with neighbors, family members or small business people who have done business together for many years. This type of dispute resolution can be remarkably successful. For more information, see the Mediation, Arbitration & Collaborative Law area of Nolo's website.