Have someone other than the sheriff serve your restraining order

After you get a court date for your elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, you must have someone personally give a copy of your court papers to the person you need protection from (the other side in your case). This 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). This is called serving papers.

Before you start 

This page gives you step-by-step instructions on how to have a private process server or someone you know serve your court papers. It’s important to have the restrained person served as soon as possible.

What if I can't find someone to serve the papers? 

You can have the sheriff serve your papers. The sheriff can be a good option for you because it is safe and may be free. Go here for step-by-step instructions for how to have the sheriff serve your court papers.

Once they are served, the police can arrest them if they violate the order. Service is also important because it will give the judge the power to consider granting a long-term restraining order that could last up to five years. Without service, the court can only grant 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.

Your court papers still have to be given to the other side, if you still want a restraining order. Even though you don't have one now, the judge can still grant a restraining order on your court date at the hearing.

If you no longer want a restraining order, get free help at your local Self-Help Center or talk to a lawyer to learn how to cancel it.


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

How to serve your Request for Restraining Order

  • Choose your server

    If you want someone you know to serve your papers, they must be: 

    • 18 years old or older, and 
    • Not part of your case

    You cannot serve your papers yourself. You can also hire aprofessional process server or have the sheriff serve your court papers. 

    Think about your server's safety. If it might be dangerous for your server to hand papers to the other side, consider asking the sheriff to serve.

  • Know your deadline to serve

    Your server must personally deliver your papers by a deadline before your court date (hearingdate).   

    To see when your deadline for service is, look at yourNotice of Court Hearing(form EA-109). 

    • The number of days is initem 5 on Page 2. 
    • You must serve the person at least this number of days before your court date(the date in item 3 on Page 1).

    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.

    You can always serve before the deadline.

  • Give your server your court papers

    You will need to give your server

    1. A copy of all your court papers which will include:

    Check item 5f on page 2 of form EA-109 to see if the judge ordered you to serve any other forms on the other side. 


    2. A partially completed copy of the Proof of Personal Service form (EA-200

    • You should fill out items 1 and 2 of the form.
    • Your server will complete items 4-6 once the papers are served.
  • Serving the court papers (instructions for your server)

    Once you have given your server a copy of your court papers and form EA-200, ask your server to:

    1. Deliver your court papers to the other side as soon as possible and before the deadline
    2. Complete form EA-200
    3. Give you the completed copy of form EA-200 so you can file it with the court clerk. (Note: This form can be filed by anyone, including your server.)

    It is important that you check with server to see if they were able to serve the other side by your deadline.

    The judge cannot grant you a long-term restraining order without service. At your court date (see form EA-109, item 3), you will need to ask the judge for more time to serve the other side. If the judge reschedules your court hearing, the judge will need to sign a new order (form EA-116), which will have your new court date and could extend any temporary protection you have. You will then need someone to serve form EA-116 with the other forms you filed (see form EA-109, item 5 for a list of the other forms you must have served on the other side). If you cannot make your court hearing, contact your local Self-Help Center for help with making a request for a new court date. Make sure you do this at least a few days before your court hearing. 


    What if the person I want a restraining order against won't take the papers from my server?
    The server may leave the papers next to the person and tell them what they are.  For example, the server could leave the papers on the ground by the person and say, "These are important legal papers for you."
  • Copy and file Proof of Service (form EA-200)

    Once you get the Proof of Service form back from your server,

    1. Make a copy of it.  
    2. Filethe Proof of Service form right away. When you file the form, take both copies (the original and extra copy) to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp and return the copy to you. The copy is for you to keep.
    3. Keep the copyof the Proof of Serviceand a copy of your restraining order (if you have one) with you at all times. Make sure you bring them to your court date, too.

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

    once the other side (restrained person) is served, they can be arrested if they violate 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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