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Small Claims, Answering a Petition

I received a small claims notice. What do I do now?

If you have received an Original Notice and Petition naming you as a defendant in a small claims case, you should carefully read the Original Notice and Petition and review “Instructions for Defendant Responding to a Small Claims Action” on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/representing-yourself/small-claims/. Use Form 3.11 “Appearance and Answer of Defendant(s)” to respond to the Original Notice and Petition. You must electronically file this form within 20 calendar days from the date you received the Original Notice and Petition.

Court staff cannot tell you how to respond to the Original Notice and Petition. If you do not know how to fill out the correct court forms, you should talk to an attorney.

How do I file a claim against the Plaintiff?

If you are a Defendant, you can file a counterclaim against the Plaintiff if your claim arises from the same set of facts as the Plaintiff’s petition.

Filing a counterclaim can be complicated and in some cases failing to file a counterclaim can affect your rights. If you think you may have a counterclaim, you should consider talking to an attorney. Form 3.13 “Counterclaim against Plaintiff(s) is available in a fillable and savable format from the Iowa Judicial Branch website under the “Small Claims” tab at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/court-forms/.

What do I do when I receive the money I’m owed?

If you are paid all of the money the court awarded to you in your small claims case, you must file Form 3.23 “Release and Satisfaction of Judgment,” available at no cost from the Iowa Judicial Branch website under the Small Claims tab at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/court-forms/ . The Release and Satisfaction must be notarized. If you are unsure about when you need to file a Release and Satisfaction you should talk to an attorney.

I have been paid only some of the money from my judgment. What can I do?

If the other party has stopped paying on your judgment and still owes you more money under that judgment, you may be able to take steps to collect on the judgment. See the sections on Garnishment and on Judgments.

I paid the money I owe. How do I know this case is finally over?

When a party has received all of the money owed from a judgment, the party must file a “Release and Satisfaction,” which is Iowa Court Rule form 3.23. If you have paid the money you owe, and the other party has not filed a Release and Satisfaction, you can file an “Application for Release and Satisfaction,” which is Iowa Court Rule form 3.22. Both forms are available at no cost on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/court-forms/.

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