This guide can give you a place to start your research when you have a case for a Civil Lawsuit. Civil lawsuits 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 lawsuits involve disputes related to breach of contract, the collection of a debt, monetary compensation for personal injuries, or property damage.
“Defendant” means the person against whom a lawsuit is filed. Nolo.com
“Jurisdiction” means the authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Nolo.com
“Lawsuit” means a legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, to be decided in a court of law. Nolo.com
“Plaintiff” means the person, corporation, or other legal entity that initiates a lawsuit seeking damages, enforcement of a contract, or a court determination of rights. Nolo.com
The Justice Court and Superior Court have separate Rules of Civil Procedure; make sure to refer to the correct set of rules based on the court in which you intend to file or have already filed your lawsuit. (See below: Court Jurisdiction for Civil Lawsuits for more information.)
Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 3 through Rule 6 outline how to commence, serve, and format a civil action in the Superior Court.
Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12 outlines the Defense and Objections: When and How Presented [how to respond] to a civil action initiated in the Superior Court.
Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 110 through Rule 113 outline how to initiate a civil lawsuit in the Justice Court.
Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 114 through Rule 120 outline how to respond to a civil lawsuit initiated in the Justice Court.
The Superior Court has jurisdiction (authority) to hear all civil actions when the amount involved to resolve the case, not including interest, costs, or requested attorney fees, is $10,000 or more, OR the Plaintiff is asking for something other than money damages, or both.
The Justice Courts have exclusive jurisdiction (authority) to hear all civil actions when the amount involved is below $10,000 not including interest, costs and awarded attorney fees.
Parties with claims for less than $3,500 can consider filing in the Small Claims division of justice court.
The Superior Court and Justice Courts in Maricopa County have created forms that you can use. Please be sure to read the checklist and/or instructions for each packet to ensure the forms are right for your situation.
For Superior Court cases:
Civil Complaint - Use these forms when you wish to initiate a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of Maricopa County.
Filing for a Default Judgment in Civil Lawsuit cases in the Superior Court of Maricopa County: We do not have the forms for this, though we do have the required checklist (see below). Use the checklist to determine what forms you will need to submit. You may use the Arizona Legal Forms book to draft your own forms, using the sample motions and forms of judgment. You may email us at: Services@jbazmc.maricopa.gov if you have questions.
- You may use the Civil Department Pleading/Motion form (Spanish) to assist you in drafting some forms for the default judgment process.
- Civil Default Checklist (Spanish) - Use this form when you are asking for a default judgment in your civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of Maricopa County. This is not the only form required when you are asking for a default judgment.
Joint Report and Proposed Scheduling Order (Spanish)- Use these forms if you are involved in a civil action in the Superior Court of Maricopa County, there has been a response filed in the case, and the case is not subject to compulsory arbitration. You must do this in accordance with Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 16(b, & c).
Satisfaction of Judgment and Release of Lien (Spanish) - Use this form when you were awarded a judgment in the Superior Court of Maricopa County, and you recorded the judgment with the Maricopa County Recorder, and the judgment, including principal and interest, has been paid in full. (This form is used to let the court know that the judgment has been paid in full.)
For Justice Court cases:
Justice Court Civil Lawsuit forms - Use these forms (under the menu option titled “Civil Suits”) for civil lawsuit paperwork in the Justice Courts of Maricopa County.
Justice Court Small Claims forms - Use these forms (under the menu option titled “Small Claims”) for small claims (claims less than $3,500) paperwork in the Justice Courts of Maricopa County.
These resources are available at the downtown Phoenix location, and online when indicated.
“Arbitration Case Flow Chart.” Superior Court of Maricopa County, 2022.
“Arbitration Guide Frequently Asked Questions.” Superior Court of Maricopa County, 2022.
“Arizona Tort Law Handbook.” State Bar of Arizona: Phoenix, AZ. KFA2595 .A739. Only available at our Downtown location.
“Civil Non-Arbitration Case Flow Chart.” Superior Court of Maricopa County, 2022.
“Civil Trial Process.” AZcourts.gov; Arizona Supreme Court. 2022
Nebeker, William A. and Quinton F. Seamons. “Litigating the class action lawsuit in Arizona.” National Business Institute: Eau Claire, WI. 2005. KFA2936.6.C53 N43. Only available at our Downtown location.
Rossman, Stuart T. “Consumer class actions, 10th ed.” National Consumer Law Center: Boston, MA. 2020. KF8896 .S74. Only available at our Downtown location.
“Small Claims Flowchart.” AZcourts.gov; Arizona Supreme Court. 2022.
This information is provided by the Law Library Resource Center of the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County.
You may contact a reference librarian as follows:
in person: 101 W. Jefferson, Phoenix
You may contact the Law Library Resource Center at:
Last update: 1/5/2023
The information provided in these guides is for research purposes only. We do not provide legal advice. For legal advice, please speak to an attorney. These guides are reviewed and updated periodically. The most recent revision date is on the guide. There may be more current information available. These guides are intended as a starting point only and do not include all information or materials related to the topic.
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