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What happens after Defendant is Served?

State of Arizona, Small Claims Court

First, if you utilize to process your case, you will receive an email from our office shortly after the Defendant has been served. If for some reason you don’t get the email, check your online account for status.

After the Defendant has been served with the Claim, the Defendant has 20 days to file an Answer. An Application for Entry of Default may be filed with the court (by Plaintiff) if the party claimed to be in default fails to file a responsive pleading within 10 business days of the notice of entry of default. The default will take effect and judgment by default may be entered. The court will accept an answer or other responsive pleading at any time prior to judgment.

If the Defendant wishes to file a Counter-Claim, it must be filed at the same time the Answer is filed.

Naturally, the Defendant has the right to call the Plaintiff and settle the case before the day of the hearing. Further, the Defendant has the right to file a Continuance (ask the court for a hearing date farther out). If this happens, you will be notified by the court before your hearing. The Plaintiff also has the right to file a Continuance. Regardless of which party files the Continuance, it must be filed a minimum number of days before the hearing. Most states require the Continuance filing at least ten (10) days before the hearing.

Assuming that a hearing has been set. If the Plaintiff appears and the Defendant does not, the Plaintiff will most likely be awarded a Default Judgment. You will still be required to show the Judge evidence of your claim. If you are unable to substantiate your claim, you are not guaranteed this Default Judgment. The Judge can order a new trial if he/she believes that more evidence is required.

Important note for Plaintiff’s. If you do not appear at your hearing (regardless if the Defendant appears), the case will be dismissed. However, almost all states dismiss the case Without Prejudice. This means that you are able to file the case again at a later time.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this site is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered in the California Small Claims process.'s Legal Document Service is not a law firm and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. cannot provide legal advice and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.
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