The Civil Unit is located in Room 101 at the courthouse.
Civil law includes statutes and case law that define or interpret individual's and organization's private rights, in their relationships and disputes that involve property, contracts, personal injury, family relationships, tax, or government rules and regulations.
Numerous civil matters come before the Court. Because of the number of possible civil actions and the potential complexity of each, it is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney before commencing legal action concerning civil matters.
In all civil cases, arbitration is mandatory for any claim of less than $50,000 and the referral will be coordinated by the court clerk.
Arbitration is a fast way to get a decision when you are in a dispute. Arbitration is like a trial but less formal. In arbitration, two sides present their evidence to an arbitrator. The arbitrator decides who wins and who loses. An arbitrator does the job that a judge or jury would normally do in court.
Residential Eviction actions are for the purpose of obtaining possession of the property only. Prior to filing a complaint with the court, the landlord must serve proper notice to the tenant. In the case of failure to pay rent, the rent must be seven or more days past due before a complaint may be filed. If a landlord accepts a partial rent payment, the original notice may no longer be effective. A landlord must file a separate small claims action to be awarded a judgment of money or to process other non-possession claims.
Landlord/Tenant forms may be purchased for $4 in Room 101.
Name and Sex Changes
You must be a resident of Benton County to petition for name change and/or sex change in Benton County.
Oregon law provides a process whereby a person may change their name and/or sex and receive a decree from the court officially recording the changes. The following name change forms are specific to Benton County Circuit Court.
The purpose of the Small Claims action is to decide certain civil disputes promptly and economically. All claims of $750 or less must be filed as a small claim. Claims between $750 and $10,000 may be filed as a small claim. A small claim hearing is informal in that no attorney is present. You present your own evidence and the other party has an opportunity to present their evidence. The Judge will make a decision that may include a money judgment or other type of judgment. There is no appeal from a judge’s decision.
A defendant may request a jury trial. However, by law, where a jury trial has been requested for a small claims matter, prior to the trial the matter must go to arbitration. Plaintiff and defendant must each pay $375 before the matter goes to arbitration. At arbitration, the arbitrator will hear argument from each party and make a decision. Either party may appeal the arbitration award and proceed to a jury trial.
Small Claims forms and instructions may be purchased for $2 in Room 101.
When filing a Small Claim, four copies of each document is required. The court will make copies at a cost to you of $0.25 per page or you may provide them to the clerk.
Small Claims Mediation
Small Claims Mediation is required by Benton County Circuit Court and is set every other Friday at 1:15 p.m. Each party will receive a notice of court appearance. If the Plaintiff does not appear for mediation orientation, the case will be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear for mediation, a default judgment will be granted. Both parties will sit down with a trained mediator who will facilitate discussion and work toward settlement of the matter. If an agreement is not reached or either party chooses not to participate in mediation at the orientation, a trial will be set before a judge.
The court will not accept payment of any judgment. Payment must be made directly to the party that has been designated as the creditor. That party is then responsible for notifying the court in writing that the judgment has been satisfied.
A “Satisfaction” is a form that tells the court that your judgment has been paid (satisfied). The creditor must file a Satisfaction of Judgment when full payment has been received on the money award portion of the judgment. The creditor may file a partial satisfaction of judgment when something less than full payment has been received. A copy of the satisfaction of judgment must be sent by the creditor to the other party. Satisfactions must be notarized. Many banks can do this. You must bring photo I.D. with you and sign the form in front of a notary public or court clerk.
While court staff can provide general information about court procedures, ORS 9.160 prohibits court staff from giving legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.