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

This page will give you step-by-step instructions on how to have the sheriff serve your court papers. The sheriff can be a good option for you because it is free and safe. The sheriff may not be a good option for you if you do not know where the other side lives or works, or if they move around a lot. The sheriff usually serves during normal business hours. 

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

  • Contact the sheriff

    The sheriff will serve your restraining order court papers for free. In a couple counties, the marshal (not the sheriff) will serve papers.

    Contact the Sheriff’s department in the county where the person you want protection from is located to find out where to go to give them your court papers. In Shasta or Trinity county, contact the marshal for service. 

    Contact the sheriff or marshal as soon as you can. It may take them a couple of weeks to attempt service. 
  • Give the sheriff your court papers

    You will need to give the sheriff a copy of your court papers, which will include a copy of:

    • 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. 

    The sheriff may have paperwork that you need to fill out, too. If you need help completing forms, you may want to bring someone with you when you go to the sheriff’s office.

  • Know your deadline to serve

    The court will give you a deadline to serve your papers. You will have to calculate the exact date for your deadline. You can do this by looking at form DV-109.

    At item 6 on form DV-109, the court has decided how many days before your court date you have to serve the other side. Your court date is listed at item 3 on form DV-109.

    For example, if your court date is June 10 and the court ordered you to serve the other side 5 days before your court date, then your deadline is June 5.

    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.

  • Get paperwork back from the sheriff

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

    • If the sheriff was able to serve your forms
      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 was unable to serve your forms
      They may 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.


    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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