Skip to main content

Is there any difference between beig called " respondent " and " defendant " on a small claims suit?

Fort Lauderdale, FL |

When an attorney mails a letter about a pleading on a small claims and calls the defendant " respondent " is that usual?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


Not really. Generally a petitioner or respondent is the terminology used for a "petition" such as a petition for receivership, petition for dissolution of marriage, or administrative proceedings. A plaintiff and defendant designation are used for most civil actions and the lawsuit is called a Complaint rather than a Petition.

This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is always recommended you consult an attorney in person to discuss your case. The Law Offices of Stage & Associates practices state-wide and represents homeowners and community associations. Please visit our website at


The words defendant and respondent are often used as synonyms. It is similar for Plaintiff and Petitioner. Certain courts utilize one or the other but when people mix them up its not unusual and doesn't invalidate anything.


I would not use that terminology in that situation, but I would not consider it important. Most judges are smart enough to put substance over form. Unless the attorney is using that term because of your status in some other proceeding, I would probably regard it as an unimportant error.

You can get a free article on small claims procedure here:

There is no substitute for the professional advice of an attorney who knows your case and represents you. My post is not, and may not be relied on as, legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Best wishes for a just and expeditious resolution.

Lawsuits and disputes topics

Recommended articles about Lawsuits and disputes

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer