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Legal Information: Iowa

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
November 3, 2023

Step 4: Service of process

A protective order is not valid until it is served. Generally, a sheriff will try to serve the abuser with a notice of hearing and with any temporary or emergency protective orders that a judge has granted you. However, if the abuser comes into contact with law enforcement for any reason before the order is served, they can “serve” the abuser with a short-form notification instead of the order.1 A short-form notification would, among other things, notify the abuser of the prohibited behavior, the risk of arrest for a violation, and put the obligation on the abuser to get a full copy of the protective order from court. The sheriff/officer can hold him/her long enough to complete service of the short-form order and then the sheriff/officer is supposed to file proof of service in court.2

You can ask the court clerk if the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff or if you have to bring the papers yourself. Do not serve the abuser with the papers yourself.

To be alerted whe service of your protective order is complete, you can register with the automatic protective order victim notification system.The court clerk or a local victim service program may be able to help you with the registration.

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 IA ST §§ 236.3(3)(b); 664A.4A(1),(2)
2 IA ST § 664A.4A(3), (4)
3 IA ST § 915.52(1), (2), (4)