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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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April 5, 2024

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be “served,” or given the papers that tell him/her about the hearing date, your petition stating what s/he did, and your temporary protection order if the judge gave you one. If the abuser lives in D.C., or some nearby Maryland and Virginia locations, the police will try to serve him/her with copies of the papers you filed. There is no charge to have the authorities serve the abuser.1 You will have to tell them where the abuser lives or works or where s/he can be located. If the abuser does not live in D.C., or if you would prefer someone other than the authorities to serve the papers, you have two options:

  • arrange for a friend or family member over the age of 18 to serve him/her; or
  • hire a process server.2

Note: You should not try to serve the papers yourself. It could put you in danger, and service from you would not be legally valid.1

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 D.C. Courts Domestic Violence Case Management Plan
2 D.C. Superior Court Domestic Violence Unit, Rule 3(a)(1)