California Small Claims Court Locations
The judicial branch of California’s government is divided into Superior Courts, Appellate Courts, and the California Supreme Court. Under California’s constitution, each county is assigned its own Superior Court. Small Claims court is a separate division of that county’s Superior Court.
As all Superior Courts (no matter what County) follow California law, the general law, rules, and procedures are the same regardless of what county you are in. However, each county regularly engages in “local rules” (either officially, unofficially, written, or unwritten). Thus, the manner in how a case progresses and what procedures vary from one small claims court location to another.
Each county will have at least one location where small claims court cases are heard. If your County Superior court only has one courthouse, it is this location. However, if a County has more than one courthouse, you will need to determine where you need to file your case and where your case will be heard (these may actually be two different locations).
A court must have proper jurisdiction in order for its rulings to have any legal effect. What is small claims court jurisdiction? In order for a small claims court to have proper jurisdiction there are several requirements:
- The plaintiff must be asking for monetary damages
- not asking for more than $10,000 or $7,500 (if suing a defendant who is insured for bodily injuries with a duty to defend) (other rules apply if you have filed more than two lawsuits in excess of $2500 see our page on Small Claims Court Limits for more information)
- The court must have proper jurisdiction over the defendant (you can’t sue a defendant in a County in which the defendant has no relation)
Venue is a fancy word for where the case is filed. For example, if your County is has two courthouses (an Eastern and Western Division), there will likely be a local rule requiring you to file your case out of the Western Division if your case arose out of the Western Division).
Here at CASmallClaims.com, we’ve reviewed approximately half of the counties in California to help you with this information. While jurisdiction is the same regardless of your county, proper venue is different for each County. The following links will help you ensure you are filing at the correct location. Always remember to check with the court clerk or county small claims court advisor if you have any questions.
- Alameda County Small Claims Court
- Contra Costa County Small Claims Court
- Fresno County Small Claims Court
- Kern County Small Claims Court
- Los Angeles County Small Claims Court
- Monterey County Small Claims Court
- Orange County Small Claims Court
- Riverside County Small Claims Court
- Sacramento County Small Claims Court
- San Bernardino County Small Claims Court
- San Diego County Small Claims Court
- San Francisco County Small Claims Court
- San Joaquin County Small Claims Court
- San Mateo County Small Claims Court
- Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court
- Santa Clara County Small Claims Court
- Sonoma County Small Claims Court
- Stanislaus County Small Claims Court
- Tulare County Small Claims Court
- Ventura County Small Claims Court