Yellowstone County, Montana
Justice Court
Frequently Asked Questions Small Claims, Civil, and Orders of Protection Contact Department

Small Claims, Civil, and Orders of Protection

Can I file a Small Claims against someone who lives in a different county?

YES, however, the person must be served in the county in which you filed your small claims complaint.

Can I file a Small Claims action for my vehicle repairs that were the result of an auto accident?

If the damages are in dispute, NO.  You would file a Civil case.  If the party agreed(verbal or written) to pay you a specific dollar amount and then failed to do so, YES.

Can my lawyer represent me in Small Claims?

Only if the other party is represented by an attorney. If you want representation by a lawyer, you must remove the action to the civil court.  Contact clerks at:

How many Small Claims actions can I file in a calendar year?


How do I collect my money?

The court does not collect your money.  Please see How to Collect a Judgment which is included in the Small Claims packet

FAQs – Civil cases

Can the court clerk help me fill out the forms?

NO. Contact the Self Help Law Center can help you but they cannot give legal advice.  Contact:

The Self Help Law Center is located at:

3021 3rd Ave North - Use North 31st Street Entrance
Billings, MT 59101

Are there forms available on line?

Civil Plaintiff Forms can be downloaded here.

How long is my Writ of Execution good?

120 days, upon expiration, you may file a new execution.

When I file my complaint should I include the filing fee and service fee amount in my complaint?

If you win your case, your court costs will be included in the judgment.

How much do I have to pay when filing my first appearance in a complaint?

There is a $30.00 appearance fee per defendant required upon filing your first document in a case.

Do I need to respond to a Counterclaim?

A written response to a counterclaim must be filed to prevent a Default Judgment on the counterclaim.

How long do I have to collect on a judgment?

Judgments are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.  If at the end of 10 years there is still a balance owing, you may file a new complaint for the balance.

Can the court assign me an attorney to help me?

NO, there are no court appointed attorneys in civil actions.  If you qualify, you can contact MONTANA LEGAL SERVICES at:, or call the HELPLINE at 1-800-666-6899.

Once I get all my money, what do I do?

If you had a judgment, you must file a SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT.  If you settled before you received a judgment, you must file a Notice of Dismissal with prejudice.  The original of these documents must be filed with the Court and you must send a copy to the other party by mail.

What do I do if the person suing me owes me money that was the result of the same transaction?

You will file a Counterclaim at the same time you file your Answer denying the complaint. 
Download forms

What happens after I file an Answer?

The court will set the matter for trial.  Parties will be notified of the date by mail.  All parties are responsible for keeping the court informed of their up-to-date contact information.

FAQs – Orders of Protection

Can I keep my address confidential?

YES, except for the Court and Law Enforcement.

Will I see the judge when I file?

The judge will review your Petition.  The judge may require you to appear before granting a Temporary Order of Protection.  If  granted, the judge will issue a Temporary Order of Protection, a date will be set for hearing within 20 day for a hearing on the petition..  At the hearing, all parties will have an opportunity to be heard by the judge.  The judge may grant the petition of an Order of Protection for a specific time period or deny.

Can I file a Petition for an Order of Protection to protect my property?

NO.  However an Order of Protection may contain a provision that your property can not be destroyed.

How much does an Order of Protection cost?

There is NO COST that you are required to pay.

Can I file an Order of Protection on behalf of my minor child/children?

YES, you would file additional paperwork to become the “Guardian Ad Litem”.  Contact: for information or forms.

When does my Temporary Order of Protection go into effect?

Immediately upon issuance.  The Temporary Order of Protection  remains in effect until the hearing on the petition.

FAQ’s Landlord Tenant cases

There are so many variables in Landlord Tenant cases – please seek legal assistance for your questions.   Contact:  MONTANA LEGAL SERVICES at:, or call the HELPLINE at 1-800-666-6899.

Justice Court Contact Information:
Justice Court of Record
Yellowstone County
PO Box 35032
Billings, MT.  59107-5032

Civil/Small Claims matters:
Criminal matters:

Fax number: 406-256-2898

While the Justice Court clerks are pleased to assist you in any way possible, please understand that we are unable to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice or have questions, please contact an attorney.