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Do I need a lawyer for small claims court?

Charlotte, NC |

I have a day care and need to recover $900 from a parent whose child no longer attends. I have communicated through phone and text. How long do I give her to pay me the money she owes after I send a certified letter to her home. She agrees that she owes me the amount I am asking for.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You CANNOT have a lawyer in small claims.

    What does the contract you signed when she started with your day care say about debts, payments, applicable law etc? That is the first place to check.

    Is it your intent to give her as long as possible to repay you? If not, begin the process now.

    Certainly in your demand letter you gave her a timeframe in which to pay, if you did not you may need to follow up with a letter giving her a timeframe. Send the letter certifed mail RRR.

    If you want to avoid court you might consider proposing a reasonable repayment plan.

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

  2. You can go to small claims court. If you are a corporation, you may need to have an attorney. Check the rules with your local small claims court clerk.

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -

  3. You are allowed to have a lawyer for small claims court in North Carolina. There is no set "time frame" that you need to give her before you send her a demand letter for payment of the amount owed. In your demand letter it would be advisable to give a reasonable time for her to pay. You may wish to consult with a lawyer before filing a small claims action, but many people are able to navigate a small claims action on their own without too much difficulty. Even if you do not hire a lawyer, there are still costs associated with filing a small claims action (not to mention time involved), so it may be worth it to explore a payment plan to avoid having to incur those costs and take time to pursue the matter in court. If you two do reach some type of agreement regarding the amount owed and any payment arrangements, make sure it reduced to writing and both of you sign the agreement. This will make it easier to prevail in any lawsuit down the road if a breach of that agreement occurs. If your day care is incorporated, however, our court rules require that you retain an attorney as a corporation cannot represent itself.

    This information is provided for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created with the furnishing of this advice. Attorney licensed in North Carolina only.