Alaska Small Claims Court Process

Alaska Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: April 4, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $10,000
Deadline to File 3 Years
Filing Fees $50 or $100
Appeal Deadline 30 Days

Small Claims Court Basics in Alaska

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Alaska?

A typical small claims case in Alaska takes two to four months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Alaska?

In Alaska, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $10,000.

To attempt to recover an amount of more than $10,000, the suit must be filed as a regular civil case in District Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claim in Alaska?

You must file a small claims case regarding a residential lease agreement in Alaska within 3 years.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Alaska?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Alaska?

In Alaska, a small claims case should be filed in the court closest to where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives or works. Use the court directory to find the nearest court.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Alaska

Step 1: Check the court email directory to determine if your local court accepts small claims filings electronically or by email.

Step 2: Complete the Complaint and Summons forms. Attach any documents you have to support your claim to the Complaint, like the lease agreement or apartment photos. The Small Claims Handbook provides instructions starting on page 7.


In security deposit claims, Alaska Statute Section 34.03.070 allows tenants to recover damages up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld by the landlord. However, to do so, you must reference that section of the law on your Complaint form.

Step 3: File your documents through TrueFiling or by email depending on which filing method is required by your local court.

Step 4: Pay the filing fee. If you file your case by email, the court will provide payment instructions.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Alaska?

In Alaska, the filing fee for a small claims case is $50 or $100 depending on the claim amount:

  • $2,500 or less – $50
  • $2,500.01 or more – $100

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fee by filing a Request for Exemption.

Small Claims Court Process in Alaska

After filing a small claims case in Alaska, the appropriate documents are served on the defendant and the defendant files a response before the case is scheduled for a trial.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. After you file the small claims case, you will need to serve the defendant. (See How to Serve a Summons)

The following documents must be served on the defendant:

  • Complaint (include any supportive documents you filed)

Service on the defendant can be completed by:

  • Certified mail
  • Licensed process server

Step 2: Submit an Affidavit of Service to the court. If you hire a process server to handle service, they will fill out the form and give you a copy. You are responsible for submitting it to the court.

Step 3: Defendant files an Answer or Counterclaim. Within 20 days of service, the defendant must file an Answer or Counterclaim. Once the response has been filed, the court clerk will issue a trial date.

If the defendant does not file an Answer or Counterclaim within the 20-day period, submit a Request for Judgment to the court and send a copy to the defendant by mail.

Step 4: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before deciding to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Alaska

If you win the judgment in Alaska, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they have 30 days after the issuance of the judgment to appeal to Superior Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they may establish an installment plan or determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are bank or wage garnishment or seizure of personal property. To initiate these processes, ask the court to issue a Writ of Execution.

A judgment gains annual interest at a rate of 3% plus the 12th Federal Reserve District discount rate (7.5% for judgments entered in 2023). You have 5 years to collect a judgment before it expires.