Dismiss a Small Claims Case

If you file a small claims case (or if you are the defendant and file a Defendant’s Claim against the plaintiff) and you decide you do not want to move forward, you can ask the court to dismiss the case. Here are some common reasons for dismissing a case:
  • You and the person you sued reach an agreement and you want to end the case. (If this is your situation, make sure the person who owes you money follows through with the agreement —and the check or payment clears—before dismissing the case. And make sure that your agreement is in writing and protects both of you. Click to read what should be in the agreement.)
  • The person you sued paid you the money he or she owed you.
  • You cannot find the defendant to serve him or her, but want to reserve the right to sue at a later date.
  • You sued several people but have decided you only want to sue one or some of them, so you dismiss the case as to the others.
  • You no longer want to pursue the case because you changed your mind.

If you decide you want to ask to dismiss the case, you need to decide whether you want the court to dismiss it “with prejudice” or “without prejudice."

  • With prejudice” means that you cannot re-file your case ever.
  • Without prejudice” means that you can re-file your case at a later date (as long as you are still within the statute of limitations).

You can choose to dismiss without prejudice if you reach an agreement with the other person and you have not yet been paid in full (like if you set up a payment plan with him or her but you want to dismiss it before all the payments become due). This allows you to re-file later on if the person misses future payments.

You can dismiss with prejudice if you have received full payment and the case is over, or if you really are sure you will not need to (or want to) re-file the case again.

Click to learn about small claims agreements and to watch a video on Resolving your Small Claims case.

To ask the court to dismiss the case

Note: Talk to your court's small claims advisor for help dismissing a small claims case.


Fill out a Request for Dismissal (Form CIV-110).

  1. For item 1(a), check box (1) if you want the case dismissed with prejudice, or box (2) if you want it dismissed without prejudice.
  2. For item 1(b), check (5) if you want to dismiss the entire case.
    • If you only want to dismiss the case as to some defendants, check box (1) and write in the names of the defendants you want to dismiss in box (6).
    • If you are a defendant and you want to dismiss your Defendant’s Claim, check Item 1(b)(3).
  3. For item 2, check the first box if you got a fee waiver to file your case (and read the second page carefully, since you may have to pay back the waived fee if you are getting paid $10,000 or more by the other side). Check the second box if you did not get a fee waiver.
  4. Below Item 2, date, print and sign your name.
  5. If you are the plaintiff and and the defendant filed a Defendant’s Claim against you, he or she will have to sign off on the dismissal of the entire case, so have the defendant sign Item 3.
  6. Make 2 copies of the form.

If you served the defendant with your Plaintiff´s Claim OR the defendant filed a Defendant’s Claim, OR  if you are the defendant trying to dismiss the Defendant’s Claim:

Fill out the Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service (Form CIV-120).

  1. Fill out the caption (top box). For the portion that has the form name in capitalized bold letters, check the box for “Other (specify)” and write in: “Small Claims"
  2. Date, print your name, and sign the top portion that starts with “To Attorneys and Parties without Attorneys."
  3. Leave the rest (the proof of service portion) blank for now.
  4. Make 1 copy of the form.

Do not fill out form CIV-120 if you have not served the defendant with your Plaintiff´s Claim AND the defendant has NOT filed a Defendant’s Claim.

The court clerk will process your Request for Dismissal (Form CIV-110) and Form CIV-120.   The clerk will keep the original and return the copies of Form CIV-110 to you, stamped "Filed." Keep one for your records.

If you are the plaintiff and have not served the defendant with your complaint AND the defendant has NOT filed a cross-complaint against you, you are DONE -- Your case has been dismissed.

If you are the plaintiff and you served the defendant with a copy of your Plaintiff's Claim OR the defendant filed a Defendant’s Claim OR if you are the defendant and you filed a Defendant’s Claim:

  1. Have the other copy of the Request for Dismissal served on the other side by mail by attaching it to a copy of the Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service (Form CIV-120).
  2. Have the server fill out the proof of service section of the original Form CIV-120 and THEN make a copy of the entire Form CIV-120.

File the original and one copy of Notice of Entry and Proof of Service (Form CIV-120) to let the court know the other side got a copy of the dismissal. The clerk will keep the orignial and return the copy to you, stamped "Filed."

Keep a copy of the filed Form CIV-120 for your records.

You are done. Your case has been dismissed.

© 2017 Judicial Council of California