Civil Law

The Civil Law is the body of laws of the State of Arizona dealing with the rights of private citizens. These laws govern many areas, such as landlord/tenant disputes, small claims, dissolution of marriage, and name change. This page describes the process for a general civil case.

Civil cases typically involve legal disagreements between individuals, businesses, corporations or partnerships. A person can also be involved in a civil case with a government entity such as a state, county or city.

Most civil cases involve disputes related to breach of contract, the collection of a debt, monetary compensation for personal injuries, or property damage.

The party that initiates a civil case is the plaintiff and the party that responds to the case is the defendant.

  1. The plaintiff files a document (complaint) with the clerk of the court stating the reasons why the plaintiff is suing the defendant, and what action the plaintiff wants the court to take.
  2. A copy of the complaint and a summons are delivered to (served on) the defendant.
  3. The defendant has a limited time (usually 20 days) to file a written answer admitting or denying the statements in the complaint.
  4. The plaintiff and the defendant exchange information about the case. This is called discovery.
  5. The case is tried before a jury or a judge.
  6. The judge makes a decision, or the jury gives its verdict, based on the testimony and other evidence presented during trial.
  7. The losing party may appeal the decision to the next higher level of the court.
  • Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure - These rules apply to civil lawsuits in justice courts in Arizona. These rules do not apply to evictions, civil traffic or civil boating proceedings, or to protective orders or injunctions against harassment in justice courts.
  • Rules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona - These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the superior court of Arizona.
  • Superior Court Rules of Appellate Procedure - Civil - These rules govern the procedures in all civil appeals, except as provided otherwise by law, taken to the Superior Court from an order or the final judgment of a justice court pursuant to A.R.S. § 22-261, or municipal court pursuant to A.R.S. § 22-425(B), including but not limited to Orders of Protection, Injunctions Against Harassment, and other civilly sanctioned cases.
  • Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure - These rules govern procedures in civil appeals to the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court, as well as appeals and special actions governed by other rules that expressly incorporate the provisions of these rules.