Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of answers to some general questions that we are frequently asked at Kellington & Oster, P.C.  If you have general questions about obtaining a divorce, click here.  If you have general questions about child custody and parenting responsibility, click here.

The answers to these questions are not comprehensive and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you have specific questions about your individual legal needs, contact us today for a consultation!  Call us at (701) 258-1074.


I received a summons and complaint.  What do I do?

If you receive a summons and complaint, it is always in your best interests to consult with a licensed attorney that knows the laws and can help you through the complicated legal process. There may be complicated legal elements and procedures associated with your particular action.  An attorney can help you proceed in responding to the summons and complaint and explain the next steps to you.

When you receive a summons and complaint, the first thing you should do is write down the date you received the documents and then carefully read both documents.  It is important to remember the day you receive the documents as you must prepare and file a response to the summons and complaint within 21 calendar days after you receive them.  (N.D.R.Civ.P. Rule 12).


Do I have to go to Court?

The answer to this question varies on a case by case basis. If you have been served a document and it appears that there is a date and time for a court hearing or trial, then the answer is yes.  If you have received a document like this, it is in your best interests to retain an attorney and to appear at the date, time, and place specified on the document.

However, if you are looking to start an action or have recently been served a summons and complaint, you may not have to appear in court.  The reason for this is that most cases settle by the parties’ mutual agreement before they ever go to trial.


How do I get a restraining order?

In order to obtain a restraining order against someone, you’ll need to file a petition with the court.  It is always in your best interests to retain an attorney to assist you with your specific legal needs, however you can do this on your own at your local courthouse.  The clerks will provide you with all the documents needed to start the action and they may assist you in filling them out.  If a Judge finds your allegations present an immediate and present threat of danger of abuse or domestic violence, the Judge will sign a temporary Restraining Order and you will receive a Notice of Hearing within 14 days.  You must appear at this hearing and be sure to bring any witnesses with you.  At the hearing the Judge will decide if there’s evidence of actual or imminent abuse or violence and determine whether the Order should remain in place and for what length of time.  Although you can go through this process on your own, you will be expected to abide by the same rules and standards as a licensed attorney.  As such, it is always in your best interests to consult with an attorney for all of your legal needs.In order to obtain a restraining order against someone, you’ll need to file a petition with the court.  It is always in your best interests to retain an attorney to assist you with your specific legal needs, however you can do this on your own at your local courthouse.  The clerks will provide you with all the documents needed to start the action and they may assist you in filling them out.  If a Judge finds your allegations present an immediate and present threat of danger of abuse or domestic violence, the Judge will sign a temporary Restraining Order and you will receive a Notice of Hearing within 14 days.  You must appear at this hearing and be sure to bring any witnesses with you.  At the hearing the Judge will decide if there’s evidence of actual or imminent abuse or violence and determine whether the Order should remain in place and for what length of time.  Although you can go through this process on your own, you will be expected to abide by the same rules and standards as a licensed attorney.  As such, it is always in your best interests to consult with an attorney for all of your legal needs.


Can I appeal the Court’s decision?

In North Dakota, you can appeal a district court’s order or judgment in a civil action up to 60 days after notice of entry of the order or judgment.  In some circumstances, the supreme court may extend the time to appeal up to 90 days  after notice of entry of order or judgment if a party moves to extend the 60 day deadline and good cause is shown.  This period of time differs for juvenile and criminal cases.  If you’re unsure if you can appeal your case, you should contact a licensed attorney to assist you with your individual legal needs.


What is a conflicts check?

A conflicts check is a routine check for any conflicts of interest that all law firms must do before you can speak with an attorney.  Attorneys are ethically required to run these checks to make sure they do not have a conflict of interest with you or your case.  Conflicts checks are generally quick, and an attorney or one of their assistants can usually conduct one in less than 5 minutes while on the phone with you.  In conducting one of these checks, an attorney or assistant will ask for your full name and any aliases and for the full name and any aliases of the person you wish to sue or who is suing you.


Will I need to provide a deposit or retainer for services?

Yes.  Attorneys rarely work for free or on a contingency basis.  At Kellington & Oster, P.C., our attorneys will ask for a retainer in return for their services.  A retainer is a fee you pay upfront for an attorney’s services and is like a down payment.  A paid retainer will go into a trust account and as work is done on your case, the charges for that work will be withdrawn from that account as payment for the work done.  The amount our attorneys will ask for to retain them varies on a case by case basis.  In some cases, the initial retainer may cover the cost of your entire case.  However, in most cases, additional retainers will be requested as work is completed on your case and the initial one depletes.  Any funds leftover from your retainer will be refunded to you upon completion of your legal matter.


Can I expect to receive some sort of bill from my law firm for the fees incurred?

Of course!  Attorneys usually keep a detailed record of all work done in your case as well as any additional costs such as filing fees.  At Kellington & Oster, P.C., you will receive monthly billing statements that detail all work that has been done in your case as well as any extra fees and costs incurred.  Your statement will include a list of work consisting of things like the drafting of documents, telephone calls, office visits, and filing fees.

The information on this page should not be construed as legal advice nor should it be understood to create an attorney-client relationship.  The information provided on this page is intended only as a general guide to theNorth Dakota court process and is not intended as legal advice nor is it a comprehensive list of North Dakota state rules associated with the court process.  Kellington & Oster, P.C. is not responsible for consequences that may result from information provided on this page as this information cannot replace the advice of a competent licensed attorney in the state of North Dakota. Information on this page is for use at one’s own risk.  Contact us to schedule an appointment to address your individual legal needs.