Debt Collection, Garnishment, Repossession

questions & answers

Question: How do I answer a summons for a debt from a vehicle repossession?


General Information re: Answering a Complaint:

Time to Respond (typically):

If a civil lawsuit has been filed against you in the state of Arizona, you will likely be served with (at least) a Summons and Complaint.  If you are served with a complaint and are living in Arizona, you typically have twenty days to respond/ file your answer.  The summons you are served with will tell you how many days you have to respond.

Computing your Time to Respond

When you are figuring out the deadline for your twenty days, you do not count the day on which you were served.  The day after service should be counted as Day 1 of 20.  You must also include weekends and holidays in your calculations for the twenty day deadline.  (Note: if your "Day 20" falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, you have until the next "non weekend" or "non legal holiday' day to file your answer (i.e. Monday).  See, Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 6(a). 

Recommendations on How to Respond:

Carefully read the complaint that has been filed against you.  Respond, one by one, to the allegations.   If you believe an allegation to be true, you may respond by stating that you "admit" to the allegation.  If you believe an allegation to be false, you may respond by stating that you "deny" the allegation.  After you have responded to the allegations, generally tell the court what relief your are seeking ; (i.e., what you want the court to do).  Sign your answer.  Put a statement in your answer certifying that you have/or will mail a copy of your answer to the Plaintiff(s).  Make sure you specify the date the answer was (or will be) mailed to Plaintiff and Plaintiff's mailing address.

Most courts in Arizona have "answer" forms and instructions available to the public.  It is recommended that you check with the court specific to your situation to see what is available.  Each court may have specific rules and preferences.   The following links however may be helpful to you. 

Maricopa County Justice Court:

Answer to Complaint Form

Pima County Justice Court:

Answer to Complaint Form

Yavapai County Justice Court;


General Information re: Arizona Auto Repossession laws:

  • If you do not make payment(s) when due, you will be considered to be "in default' under the vehicle financing contract .  If you "default' under the contract, the lender can take possession of the vehicle as long as long as it does not breach the peace.  You are not required to give the vehicle to the lender if the lender has not obtained a court order, but the lender does not have to notify you of its intention to repossess the vehicle.  See, ARS § 47-9609.
  • If you are in default, the lender may sell the vehicle after it repossesses it.  The proceeds of sale will be used to pay for the expenses of repossession and sale, and then the balance of the loan. See, ARS § 47-9610 and See, ARS § 47-9615. 
  •  If the vehicle transaction was for personal, family or household purposes, and the lender opts to sell the vehicle after repossession, the lender must notify you of its intent to sell.  See, ARS § 47-9615. 

  • You may be able to get the vehicle back before it is sold, if you pay the full balance due under the contract and pay the lender’s repossession expenses. See, ARS § 47-9623. 

  • If the sale amount of the vehicle is not enough to satisfy the balance of your obligation and the costs expended by the lender, you will be liable for the deficiency. (The lender is permitted to sue you to recover the difference).  See, ARS § 47-9615. 



  • How do I answer a summons for a debt from a vehicle repossession?




  • Please select your county of residence below.



  • State Bar of Arizona
  • Maricopa County Bar
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program


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