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The Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia

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  556 N. McDonough Street, DeKalb County Courthouse
Decatur, GA 30030-3356
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DeKalb County Magistrate Court Civil Issues

Civil Matters

The defendant was served but has not filed an answer. How do I get a default judgment?

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A defendant has thirty (30) days to file an answer. The defendant has 15 additional days to open default by filing an answer and paying the court costs to the Clerk of Court. When a defendant fails to file an answer, or pay court costs when filing a late answer, the case is referred to as being in "default." When that occurs, the Court can enter a judgment in the case in favor of the plaintiff. If the defendant fails to file an answer, you must write to the Court to request the judgment. In some circumstances, you may be required to appear to prove damages. A notice of hearing will be sent if you are required to appear.

A judge will review the file and decide if the judgment can be entered automatically, without further evidence or hearing, or whether a hearing has to be scheduled to determine the amount of damages to be awarded in the judgment.

There are two kinds of damages, "liquidated "or "unliquidated." A judgment can be issued immediately in a case of properly proved "liquidated damages." However, where the damages are "unliquidated" or when a liquidated damages case has not been properly submitted, a judge will have a hearing.

Examples of "liquidated" or fixed damages would be the amount of money owed on an invoice, credit card account, or a contract. Damage claims in those cases typically do not require a default judgment hearing IF the plaintiff attached ALL the necessary documents to prove plaintiff(s) case, such as contracts, statements, invoices, for the exact amount claimed

"Unliquidated damages" are damages which are uncertain. These types of cases will be set for a default judgment hearing. The plaintiffs will have to prove the amount owed. Examples of "unliquidated damages" include damage to a car following an accident or defective workmanship cases. The fact that defendant has failed to contest the claims does not change the nature of the unliquidated damage claim to a liquidated damage claim.


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The Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia | 556 N. McDonough Street, Suite 270, DeKalb County Courthouse, Decatur, GA 30030-3356 | Phone: 404-371-2261
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