In a lawsuit, the “complaint” is the document that tells the court and the defendant what you are asking for.
In small claims court, the court provides a complaint form for you to use. Use this Small Claims Complaint form (see page 3 of this PDF) from the Vermont Judiciary website. You can also ask your local court or Legal Services Vermont for a paper copy. You can fill out the form with a pen or computer.
Complete the form using the total damages you listed out in Step 1. Briefly explain your dispute(s) with the defendant in the space provided.
Check over the document. Make a copy for yourself, the court and the defendant.
The next step is to “file” (submit) the complaint with small claims court, which is in the Civil Division of Superior Court in the county where you live.
Video: How to start a court case in Vermont — filing a Complaint and serving the defendant
You can file the complaint by mail or in person. You can file electronically instead if you prefer, but non-lawyers are never required to do this. Find the address and phone number for your local court on the Vermont Judiciary website.
See the court’s instructions which are included with the Small Claims Complaint form.
There is a filing fee for small claims court. In June 2022 it was $65 for claims under $1,000 or $90 for claims more than $1,000. You can either pay the fee when you mail the Complaint, or fill out a fee waiver form. The fee waiver form gives the court information about your income and expenses. The court will decide if you should have to pay the filing fee. Pay the court in cash, or with a check or money order made out to “Vermont Superior Court.”
Once you have filed and paid the fee or applied to waive the fee, the court will send you the “docket number” assigned to your case. Take note of this number. It should go on all future documents you send to the court and the defendant about this case.
The next step is to inform the defendant about the lawsuit. This is called “serving the defendant.” In small claims, most people start by trying to serve the defendant by mail.
The court’s small claims complaint instructions tell you what documents to include in the envelope to the defendant. When you serve (or mail your complaint and attachments to) the defendant, send the court a Certificate of Service to let the court know.