Step 3: Service of process
If you receive an ex parte order, it will not be enforceable until the papers have been served upon the abuser. The court clerk will give all of the necessary paperwork to the sheriff or another law enforcement officer to be served personally upon the abuser without any cost to you. Service is usually done by a “peace officer” but it could also be done by a corrections officer, such as a probation officer, court services officer, parole officer, or an employee of a jail or correctional facility.1
As an alternative, the law allows a peace officer to serve the respondent with a “short-form notification” that notifies the respondent of the basic elements of the order. This may be appropriate, for example, if the respondent comes into contact with the police and the police learn that there is an unserved temporary order. The short-form notification will have the following instructions to the respondent: “The order for protection is now enforceable. You must report to your nearest sheriff office or county court to obtain a copy of the order for protection. You are subject to arrest and may be charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony if you violate any of the terms of the order for protection or this short-form notification.”2
Note: If service was attempted by a peace officer but it was unsuccessful because the respondent is avoiding service by hiding or for any other reason, you can file an affidavit with the court to explain what happened. The judge can then allow the respondent to be “served” by alternate service, which can include mailing a copy to any addresses where there is a reasonable possibility that mail or information will be forwarded or communicated to the respondent and publication in a newspaper for one week. The application for alternate service must include the last known location of the respondent as well as other information about the respondent/abuser’s family members’ locations, etc. When deciding whether to order this, the judge is supposed to consider the length of time the respondent’s location has been unknown, the likelihood that the respondent’s location will become known, the type of things you are asking for in your order for protection, and the nature of the efforts made to locate the respondent. The judge can order service by first class mail, forwarding address requested, to any addresses where there is a reasonable possibility that mail or information will be forwarded or communicated to the respondent/abuser. If either of these options are ordered, service shall be considered complete 14 days after mailing or 14 days after court-ordered publication.3
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
1 Minn Stat § 518B.01(3a), (9a)
2 Minn Stat § 518B.01(8)(a), (8a)
3 Minn Stat § 518B.01(4)(g), (5)(f), (8)(a), (8)(c)