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Nature of Dispute or Controversy

Small claims courts are mostly intended to resolve minor monetary disputes. A limited number of state small claims courts permit other forms of remedy besides money, for example, evictions or requests for the return of personal property. However, individuals generally cannot use small claims courts to file for divorce, guardianship, bankruptcy, name changes, child custody, or “injunctive relief” (emergency relief, usually to stop someone from doing something). In many states, they cannot sue for defamation (slander or libel) or false arrest in small claims court. Finally, they cannot sue the federal government or any of its branches, agencies, or employees in their official capacities in small claims court.

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