Sheriff serves your Request for a Restraining Order

After you get a court date, you must have someone 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 the sheriff serve your court papers. The sheriff can be a good option for you because it is safe and free. 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. 

What if I don't want the sheriff to serve my court papers?
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. Go here for 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 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.
What if the judge denied my request for a temporary restraining order? 
Your court papers still have to be given to the other side if you still want a long-term restraining order. Even though you don't have one now, the judge can still grant you 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

  • Contact the sheriff

    Contact the sheriff in the county where the person you want protection from is located. Ask them where you should go to drop off your court papers for service (some departments may allow you to email or fax papers to them). In Shasta or Trinity county, contact the marshal for service. 

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

  • Know your deadline to serve

    Your server must 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.

  • 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:

    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. 

    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.

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

  • 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.
    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. 


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    Check-in with the sheriff, if you have not received paperwork from them.


    Once you get your paperwork

    1. Check whether the sheriff filed the original form for you (tip: if there is a stamp on the upper right-hand corner of the form, it has been filed with the court and the sheriff sent you a copy).
    2. If you have the original form, make a copy of it.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

    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 the restraining order.

Prepare for your court date

What's next?

Once you’ve served your Request for Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders, learn about what to expect at your hearing so you know how to prepare.

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Have a question about Elder abuse restraining order?

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