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 (e.g., for a traffic stop), the sheriff or any law enforcement officer can “serve” the abuser with a short-form notification in lieu 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
Usually the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff, but in some areas you may have to bring the papers to the sheriff or police yourself. You can ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser. Do not try and serve the abuser in person with the papers yourself. If you register, there is an automatic protective order victim notification system that will notify you, your family members, and other interested parties (by telephone or some other way) of the date and time of service of a protective order on the abuser. The notification system is coordinated by the crime victim assistance division of the department of justice. Your protective order paperwork should include a section that allows you to register to get notified.3
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)
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?