No matter where you live or who you live with, as long as there are more than two people, you're going to get into some kind of disagreement. It's just human nature. Most of the time, you can solve the issue between yourselves, but there are times -- especially when money is involved -- that the problem is so bad that someone else has to render an impartial, binding decision. In most western countries, that decision is made in court.
The small claims court is where most ordinary citizens go to have their cases decided, mainly because the disputed amounts are low (usually way under US$10,000) and because they can't afford to have a lawyer represent them (attorneys aren't allowed to represent you in small claims court; you have to speak to the judge on your own behalf).
Small claims courts fees can run into the hundreds and can cost you lost wages from work. But the biggest secret that small claims courts won't tell you is this:
Over 85% of all small claims cases settle before they get to trial.
Think about that. You can spend hundreds in time and money expecting to have your case heard by a judge, only to end up settling your case with no trial at all. If that makes you wonder why more people don't simply settle their cases, you're not alone. There are good reasons why they don't, and the top reason is this:
The only thing people hate more than talking to a judge is talking to the person they're suing.
Research shows that if more people could resolve their disputes without court, without costs and without facing the person they're suing, they'd do it. This is why it's in your best interest to use an online settlement service. Services like OneDayDecisions.com, for example, offer both parties up to three chances to accept a settlement amount calculated to be acceptable to both parties. Once both parties agree, the deal is sealed with a credit card payment (which is not allowed in small claims court) and there's no harm done to anyone's credit rating (small claims courts report when you lose to credit agencies, which can lower your credit score).
Online settlement services also are faster than small claims courts. Instead of taking months, the entire process can be completed in as little as one day. And unlike small claims courts, online settlement services can settle a dispute with any two parties anywhere in North America, instead of being limited to city or county jurisdictions.
If you have an 85% chance of settling your case, it makes sense to use an online settlement service before you spend the time and money on small claims court, where you likely will never get to trial.