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Legal Information: Washington

Restraining Orders

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December 3, 2020

Step 3: Service of process

The respondent must be “served” or given notice of the hearing five business days prior to the hearing. If the respondent has not been served in time, the hearing will be rescheduled. In that situation, the judge should reissue the temporary order and allow you to attempt to have the respondent served again. If you are unable to have the respondent served after two attempts, the judge may allow you to serve the respondent by mail or by publication unless you request another chance to serve the respondent.1 If the respondent was served but does not show up at the hearing, the hearing can proceed without the respondent.

The clerk will send the law enforcement office a copy of the petition for the order for protection and a copy of the temporary order (if you were granted one) to serve the respondent. A return of service form and a Law Enforcement Information Sheet will also be included for law enforcement’s use. Any adult 18 or over, other than you, can serve the papers. However, people usually want a law enforcement officer to serve the papers, since there could be a dangerous situation. The court may order the law enforcement agency where the respondent resides to serve the papers. Do not attempt to serve the papers to the abuser yourself.

1 R.C.W. § 26.50.050

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?