Below are several sources of information for persons who do not have a lawyer.
The information is not legal advice and does not take the place of an attorney.
The jurisdictional limit for civil suits in the Justice Court is $20,000. The Plaintiff, person filing suit, will file a sworn petition and pay a filing fee and service fee. The petition will include the name of the plaintiff and defendant, address for both parties, reason for suit, and amount being sought.
The filing fee is Civil Suits is $54.00 and for Evictions is $54.00. For Debt Claims and Small Claims, the service fee is $75.00 for serving one Defendant in Jefferson County, each additional Defendant will be $75.00 more. Eviction (If they live in another county, the service fee could be different.) In an Eviction suit, the service fee is $75.00 for each defendant.
Answer dates are generally on Mondays at 10:00 A.M., except for Eviction cases. Once the defendant is served in a debt or small claim, the court will notify both parties with the court date. In Evictions, the Plaintiff is given the court date upon filing and Defendant's notice is on the citation.
If the Defendant chooses not to appear, a Default Judgment may be granted against them. If Judgment is found for the Plaintiff, the Judgment will include the Court Costs paid to file the case. Please do not include the amount of costs in the amount you are filing for.
In the State of Texas, there is no guarantee that you will collect the Judgment from your Defendant.
If the Defendant has not satisfied the Judgment with the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff may file for an 'Abstract of Judgment' 21 days after Judgment, at the cost of $8.00 payable to the court, which puts a lien against any real property (such as their house or any land the Defendant may own) for 10 years and is renewable every 10 years. The Plaintiff will file the Abstract of Judgment with the County Clerk's office. You should call the County Clerk's office for the filing fee. This abstract may be filed in as many counties as the Defendant owns property in. Once the Judgment has been satisfied, the Plaintiff should remove the Abstract by filing a 'Release of Judgment' with the County Clerks office.