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.
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.
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.
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 a professional process server or have the sheriff serve your court papers.
Know your deadline to serve
Your server must personally deliver your papers by a deadline before your court date (hearing date).
To see when your deadline for service is, look at your Notice of Court Hearing (form EA-109).
- The number of days is in item 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:
- Form EA-109
- Form EA-100
- Form EA-110, if granted by the judge
- Form EA-120 (leave blank- this is for the other side to complete if they want to )
- Form EA-250 (leave blank)
- Form EA-120-INFO
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.
- 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:
- Deliver your court papers to the other side as soon as possible and before the deadline
- Complete form EA-200
- 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.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,
- Make a copy of it.
- File the 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.
- Keep the copy of the Proof of Service and 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.
Once you’ve served your Request for a Restraining Order, learn about what to expect at your hearing so you know how to prepare.