Appealing the judgment
You and the defendant have 30 days to appeal the judgment if you disagree with the court’s decision. Your appeal must be in writing to the court clerk.
Find the Small Claims Appeal form on the Vermont Judiciary website. You will pay a filing fee with this form or apply to waive the fee. In January 2023, the fee was $120.
If you win your case
If you win your case, the defendant has 30 days to pay on the “judgment.” This is the amount that the court orders the defendant to pay you.
If the defendant does not pay the whole judgment amount within 30 days, you can take these steps:
If you know where the defendant works, you can ask the court to “garnish” (collect) some of their wages.
Use the court's Motion for Trustee Process form. You will pay a filing fee with this form or apply to waive the fee. In January 2023, the fee was $65. The court will order a hearing. When that hearing is scheduled, the court will give you paperwork for a sheriff to serve on both the defendant and their employer. Follow the same steps as for sheriff service of a Complaint in Step 3.
If you know that the defendant owns a house or other property in Vermont, you can get a “judgment lien” on the property. Follow these steps:
Pay the court for a certified copy of the judgment. In January 2023 the cost for a certified copy was $5.
Bring the certified copy to the town office in the town in Vermont where the defendant owns property. Ask them to file it with the land records. The town will charge you a fee for this.
Now, when the defendant sells or transfers the property to someone else, they must pay your judgment.
If you don't know where the defendant works or whether they own property, you can ask the court for a financial disclosure hearing.
Use the court's Motion for a Financial Disclosure Hearing form. You will pay a filing fee with this form or apply to waive the fee. In January 2023, the fee was $65. Also fill out and send a Certificate of Service. At this hearing, the judge will ask the defendant questions to find out if they are able to pay on the judgment. If the judge decides that the defendant can pay, the judge will order partial payments or order the defendant to pay the whole amount.
Have a question?
The Vermont Judiciary includes more details about the small claims process on its website. See the Small Claims section of the Civil Division page. Also check out the Judiciary's Guide to Small Claims Proceedings in Vermont. You can also ask a court clerk about forms, fees and the process.
Collecting on a judgment can be complicated. Contact us at Legal Services Vermont for quick advice or hire a private attorney.