Sheriff serves your Request for a Restraining Order

After you get a court date for your restraining order, you must have someone give a copy of your court papers to the person you need protection from. This is called serving papers. A sheriff or marshal can do it for free, but you can also choose someone else to serve for you.  Serving the papers lets the other side know that a case was filed, what they can do next, and what they can't do (if there's a temporary restraining order). 

For your case to move forward, you need to have your court papers served, even if the judge did not grant you a temporary restraining order. 

Before you start

To ask the sheriff to serve your papers, you must have an address or location for the other side (restrained person). If the other side is in jail, the sheriff can serve them. If the other side is in prison in California, prison staff, not the sheriff, will serve your papers. Follow the instructions by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for serving someone in prison.

You can also hire a professional process server or ask someone you know to be your server.
If you want someone you know to serve your papers, they must be:  
  • 18 or over, and
  • not part of your case
You can't serve your papers yourself. Think about safety when choosing your server. Get step-by-step instructions for how to have someone else, not the sheriff, serve your court papers.

It’s important to have the restrained person served as soon as possible. Once they are served, the police can arrest them for violating the order. Service is also important because it will give the judge the power to consider granting you a long-term restraining order, that could last up to five years. Without service, the court can only grant you a temporary restraining order. Service can be a hard step to complete and make take multiple tries. At your court date, the judge can give you more time, if you need it.

How to serve your Request for Restraining Order

  • Fill out form SER-001

    Request for Sheriff to Serve Court Papers (form SER-001)

    Use this form to ask the sheriff to serve the other side with your court papers. 

    Tips for completing the form:

    • Location of person (item 4): The sheriff will try to serve the person at the address you give.  If you have more than one address (like a work address and a home address) you can list both (in item 4a and 4b) and write the hours that the person will be at each address. 
    • Type of court papers you are serving (item 5a): In this section, write "domestic violence restraining order." 
    • Court hearing (item 5c): Give the court date listed on the form DV-109, #3.
    • Deadline for service (item 5d): To figure out your deadline, first look at form DV-109, #6 to see how many days the judge listed. Subtract the number of days from the court hearing date on DV-109, #3. For example, if your court date is June 10 and the court ordered you to serve the other side at least 5 days before your court date, then your deadline is June 5.
    Contact the sheriff or marshal as soon as you can. It may take them a couple of weeks to attempt service. 
  • Gather all your court papers

    You will need to give the sheriff your completed form SER-001 and a copy of all the court papers you are required to serve on the other side. This will include: 

    • Form DV-109
    • Form DV-100
    • Form DV-110, if granted by the judge
    • Form DV-120 (leave blank- this is for the other side to complete if they want to )
    • Form DV-250 (leave blank)

    There will be other forms, if you asked for child custody or support. Check page 2, of form DV-109 to see if the judge ordered you to serve any other forms on the other side. 

  • Give your papers to the sheriff

    You can give your papers to the sheriff in person or electronically. Contact the sheriff's office for more details on how to turn in your papers. In Trinity county, contact the marshal for service. 

    Yes, you can have someone else turn in your papers for you. Make sure you complete and sign form SER-001 (and SER-001A if it applies to your situation). Even if someone turns in the form for you, list your name in item 2, and you or your lawyer must sign the form.
  • Get paperwork back from the sheriff

    The sheriff should give you paperwork after they serve (or try to serve) your forms

    • If the sheriff served your papers
      An officer will complete a Proof of Service form. This form shows the court that the other side was served and will allow the court to move forward with your case.
    • If the sheriff did not serve your papers
      They will complete a form that says they were unsuccessful and will give dates and times they tried to serve the other side. Sometimes this form is called a Declaration of Due Diligence

    Check in with the sheriff,

     if you have not received paperwork from them. It is important that you check with the sheriff to see if they were able to serve the other side by your deadline. If they did not serve the other side, you will need to reschedule your court date. Learn more about how to reschedule your court date.


    Once you get your paperwork

    1. Make sure the original proof of service or declaration of due diligence form gets filed with the court. If there is a stamp on the upper right-hand corner of the form, this means it was already filed and you do not need to file it with the court
    2. Bring a copy of the form to your court date.

    If you were granted a Temporary Restraining Order (form DV-110),

     once the other side (restrained person) is served, they can be arrested for violating your restraining order.

Prepare for your court date

What's next?

Once you’ve served your Request for a Restraining Order, learn about what to expect at your hearing so you know how to prepare.

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