restraining orders are challenging to serve in the best of circumstances
Restraining and Protective Orders Can Be Challenging to Serve

Introduction: This case study chronicles the successful pursuit of personal service for a protective order on a recalcitrant individual, highlighting the perseverance and strategic approach employed by Solid Serve Legal.

The Client: Caroline (not her real name), a single mother in Clackamas County, came to us seeking assistance in serving her ex-partner two domestic violence restraining orders — one protecting her and one protecting her older (adult) daughter. Personal service was crucial, but the ex actively avoided being served, posing a significant challenge. 

Typically in Oregon, protective and restraining orders are served at no cost to the petitioner by the local sheriffs’ office. However, most sheriffs offices will only make attempts Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They will also refuse to make attempts if there is a gate or a No Trespassing sign posted at the residence. These hurdles can make it almost impossible to find and serve those who actively evade service.

In Caroline’s case, the sheriffs made one attempt and told her they could not serve because there was a No Trespassing sign. She called Solid Serve Legal for help.

Caroline was distraught because she was on a limited budget and could not afford unlimited attempts at service. She was also very scared and worried that her ex partner might do something violent to either herself or her older daughter.

Single mom and her daughter worried about the protective orders
Our client and her daughter were understandably worried about what might happen if the protective orders weren’t properly served


The Challenge:

  • Serving the ex required personal contact, unlike alternative methods like certified mail or substitute service.
  • While process servers may deliver paperwork on private property by approaching a doorway, they are not allowed to pass through a locked gate nor are they allowed to stay on private property when asked to leave. No tresspassing signs need to be respected.
  • The ex engaged in delaying tactics, providing false meet-up times and locations.
  • The client’s and her daughter’s safety and emotional well-being were at stake.
  • Standard process service fees only cover three attempts and Caroline was on a limited budget.


Our Solution:

  • Understanding the Client’s Needs: Prioritizing client safety and clear communication, we actively listened to Caroline’s concerns and ensured transparency throughout the process. She got updates by email on each attempt and each email included lots of details and photos. This helped her be prepared for any push back by her ex.
  • Strategic Planning: Anticipating evasive tactics, we explored various serve options and locations beyond the initial address provided by our client. We looked at contacting members of his household and extended family, and we reached out to him directly several times by phone and text.
  • Persistence and Tenacity: Despite setbacks, we remained determined, revisiting locations at different times and utilizing public records to track potential whereabouts. Even though we had surpassed our three attempts, we kept making contact with the ex in order to ensure our client’s safety.
  • Investigative Expertise: As a licensed private investigator, I have access to tools and expertise that give me an edge in finding and serving those who would prefer to fly under the radar. 


The Turning Point: Caroline had initially told me she was scheduled to attend a custody hearing at the courthouse with her ex, but the date was pretty far out and she was reluctant to wait that long and she was terrified of how he might react to being served in her presence. Because we had exhausted all of the other options, I scheduled time to attend that hearing, paperwork in hand. I assured Caroline that I would stay on site during the hearing and that there would be plenty of law enforcement at the courthouse, too.

The Result: When the ex arrived for the hearing, unaware of my presence, I successfully served him the protective order, ensuring legal protection for Caroline and her daughter. I also attended the hearing at the request of our client and to provide moral support and help her feel safe.

The Impact:

  • Our diligence and expertise brought much-needed peace of mind and legal security to the client and her daughter.
  • Our strategic approach demonstrated the effectiveness of process serving upon even the most evasive subject.


We Can Help: For reliable and dedicated process serving, regardless of the challenge, contact Solid Serve Legal. We understand the critical nature of service delivery and go the extra mile to ensure your legal needs are met. If you have a protective order that the sheriffs have been unable to serve, we will help you. We specialize in finding the hard-to-serve and are especially dedicated to helping clients who are dealing with domestic violence issues.protec