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Massachusetts Restraining Order Asked Questions ( FAQ )

In monitoring phrases that many of our guests entered into search engines Google, Yahoo, or Bing and the subsequent search results that led them to our website, we found that many of them just wanted answers to very basic questions on Massachusetts Restraining Order Law. We recognize the challenges faced by our guests in using these search engines to obtain quality answers from reliable sources. It's not an easy task even if you had the time to sift through the hundreds, thousands, or even millions of webpage search engine results just to find an answer to your basic question. Even if you are lucky in finding an answer, you should never act on it as the internet is filled with information that can be inaccurate, or outdated from both questionable and what can be construed as trusted sources. We encourage all of our website guests for their own protection to always consult with a licensed Massachusetts attorney in good standing practicing in the areas of Divorce and Family law, such as Boston Attorney Robyn A. Briatico, before acting on any information they obtain from this or any other website.

Important Note:
The general answers we provide in the areas of Family and Divorce Law are for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any specific situation.

As a free service to our community and the general public, Boston Restraining Order Attorney Robyn A. Briatico has chosen to answer a select number of
Massachusetts restraining order frequently asked questions (FAQ) submitted by visitors to various search engines, MassachusettsRestrainingOrder.com, and Tweets sent to @MyBostonLawyer at http://twitter.com/MyBostonLawyer . The answers to these select questions or modified versions follow:

  • What type of protection does a Massachusetts restraining order, protective order, or abuse prevention order provide?
    Answer: In Massachusetts, a 209A order is often referred to as a "protective order", "restraining order", or "an abuse prevention order". The restraining order itself is a civil order that has criminal penalties. A 209A restraining order provides legal protection by prohibiting, a husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have had a substantial dating relationship, from causing you physical or sexual harm either by force or the threat of harm. Back to Top
  • Will a restraining order protect me from harrassment and abuse in Massachusetts?
    Answer: While nothing is guaranteed, a Restraining Order has the full backing of the Court and law enforcement and in many cases is a deterrent to abusive individuals due to the potential criminal and/or monetary penalties. You should consider a restraining order as one of many options available to protecting you and your children. Back to Top
  • Once a restraining order has been issued by the District Court, or the Boston Municipal Court, or the Juvenile Court, or the Superior Court, or the Probate and Family Court, what are my legal options if I believe that the order was issued by the Court in error?
    Answer: After the Evidentiary hearing, you may file an appeal for errors of law in issuing the restraining order. There are no provision in M.G.L ch. 209A for an appeal by either party. The Supreme Judicial Court however, has ruled that any party seeking an appeal of a 209A Order are directed to the Appeals Court. The Clerk-Magistrate or Register should cooperate if a party attempts to appeal. Back to Top
  • Can a Massachusetts judge issue a restraining order (209A abuse protection order) against your abuser (ex-husband or wife) or batterer that forces them to not contact you at work or a relatives home?
    Answer: Yes! A Massachusetts judge can issue a restraining order that requires the abuser to not contact you at work or a relative's home. Back to Top
  • Can a Massachusetts judge issue a restraining order (209A abuse protection order) that requires the batterer or abuser (ex-husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have had a substantial dating relationship) to pay for medical costs and related loss of wages?
    Answer: Yes! The court judge can order the abuser or batterer to pay for all medical costs and related loss wages as a result of the injuries you suffered. Back to Top
  • Can a Massachusetts court or judge issue a restraining order (abuse protection order) that requires the abusive spouse (ex-husband or wife) to provide financial support and temporary custody of your children?
    Answer: Yes! The Massachusetts court or judge can order the abusive spouse to provide both financial support and temporary custody of your children. Back to Top
  • What relief can I ask for against the abuser (husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) on the Massachusetts restraining order ( 209A abuse protection order) application?
    Answer: You may ask the Court on the Massachusetts restraining order application to provide the following:
    * You can ask the judge to order that the abuser stop or refrain from abusing you.
    * You can ask the judge to order the abuser to have no contact with you or your child in your custody.
    * You can ask the judge to order the abuser to vacate or move out of the house, apartment, town home, or condo where you live.
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  • Can you obtain a restraining order (abuse protection order) against an abuser (husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) from a district court other than the one that you live in?
    Answer: Yes! If you have fled to another area in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to avoid further abuse or harassment, you can go to the nearest Massachusetts District Court in your new area to obtain a restraining order. Back to Top
  • Where in Massachusetts do I go to obtain a restraining order, protective order, or 209A abuse prevention order?
    Answer: You can obtain a restraining order in Massachusetts at any District Court, Superior Court, or Probate and Family court. Back to Top
  • How do I obtain or where can I go to get a 209A restraining or abuse prevention order if the court is closed or not open?
    Answer: On weekends, holidays, or after court hours, your local Massachusetts police department can issue an emergency 209A temporary restraining order. The emergency order will be valid until the next business day. Back to Top
  • Should I carry with me at all times a copy of my Massachusetts 209A protective order or restraining order?
    Answer: Yes! You should carry your restraining order at all times. If your abuser or batterer violates the restraining order, you should contact the local police. You will need to provide a copy of the 209A protective or restraining order to the local police. Back to Top
  • Will I be protected in every town and county in Massachusetts if I have a valid 209A protective or restraining order?
    Answer: Yes, you are protected throughout Massachusetts regardless of which court issued the 209A protective or restraining order. Back to Top
  • Is my restraining order or 209A protective order valid or good outside of the state of Massachusetts?
    Answer: Congress passed legislation that requires all states to enforce protective or restraining orders issued in other states. Massachusetts will honor and enforce restraining orders issued outside of Massachusetts. Back to Top
  • Will my spouse (ex-wife,husband), batterer, or abuser go to jail if I file for a 209A protective or restraining order against them?
    Answer: No! If you file a 209A protective or restraining order, it's considered a civil action and your abuser or batterer will not be fined, arrested nor sent to jail unless he/she violates the order. If however they violate the restraining order, they will have committed a criminal offense and may face possibility of a prison sentence and/or fines for the violation.
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  • What if I got served in Massachusetts with a 209A abuse protective or restraining order and I'm innocent? Should I go to the court hearing?
    Answer: Absolutely! If you don't show up to the restraining order hearing after having been served, you will not be able to defend yourself against the allegations of your accuser. The judge can issue a 209A protective or restraining order against you based solely on the testimony of your spouse (ex-husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) without you being present. While a 209A abuse protective or restraining order is a civil order, a violation is considered a criminal offense that carries severe penalties including possible prison or jail time and/or fine. You should contact an experienced restraining order attorney that has a proven track record of successfully defending against 209A abuse protective and restraining orders in Massachusetts. Back to Top
  • How long does a 209A temporary restraining order against my spouse (husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) last (or be valid) if it was issued in Massachusetts by the District Court?
    Answer: If the Massachusetts District Court judge grants your initial 209A restraining order, he or she will issue a temporary restraining order that will be valid for up to 10 days. A court date will be scheduled within 10 court days to allow the accused to defend the order. If the order is granted after the 10 day hearing, the order may be valid for up to 1 year. You may renew the restraining order after 1 year if you can show that you are still in fear of imminent harm.
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  • What happens if my spouse (ex-husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) doesn't show up to a restraining order (abuse protection order) hearing in Massachusetts?
    Answer: If you spouse (husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) fails to show up to court to defend against extending the restraining order, the Massachusetts court may grant the extension of the restraining order for up to 1 year. Back to Top
  • Can the Massachusetts District Court decide on child visitation rights of your minor children?
    Answer: No! Child visitation rights of minor children can only be determined by the Massachusetts Probate and Family court. Back to Top
  • Who can you get a 209A abuse protective or restraining order against in Massachusetts?
    Answer: You can obtain an order against a spouse or former spouse (husband,wife, ex-husband or ex-wife) present or former household member(s), a relative by blood or a present or former relative by marriage, the parent of a minor child, a person with whom you have or had a substantial dating relationship. Back to Top
  • What documents or evidence should I bring to a Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order hearing?
    Answer: You should bring at a minimum hospital records, police reports, photograph, and any evidence of property damage, to a 209A abuse protective or restraining order hearing in Massachusetts? Back to Top
  • Can a Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order be extended beyond 1 year of the effective date?
    Answer: Yes! You can go back to the Massachusetts court that issued the restraining order and request an extension. If you fail to request an extension by the restraining order expiration date, the order will expire and become invalid on the return date.
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  • Can a minor child obtain a restraining order (or 209A abuse protective order) in Massachusetts?
    Answer: Generally, a parent or guardian should be present when applying for a restraining order (or 209A Abuse Protective Order). However, a Massachusetts judge can issue a restraining order in certain circumstances to a minor child under the age of 18 years old if the court determines the minor appears to be in danger. Back to Top
  • Can a Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order be modified, changed, or vacated after the order has been issued?
    Answer: Yes! You will need to file a request to change or amend the Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order and obtain a hearing date. Both you and your abuser must appear before a judge in the same court where the order was first issued.
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  • What are some of the criminal charges your abusive spouse (husband,wife,ex-husband,ex-wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) can be charge with for violating a Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order?
    Answer: If your abusive spouse, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship, violates a restraining order, they can be charged in Massachusetts with a number of crimes including but not limited to assault, assault and battery, threats, tress passing, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, malicious destruction of personal property, and stalking. Back to Top
  • Where do I go in Massachusetts to obtain a MGL 258E harrassment prevention order?
    Answer:You can go to Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, Superior Court, and District Court to obtain a harassment prevention order (M.G.L. ch. 258E) . Back to Top
  • What should I do after my spouse (husband, wife,or ex-husband or ex-wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) is arrested for violating a 209A abuse protective or restraining order in Massachusetts?
    Answer:If you have legal council, you should contact your lawyer immediately after your spouse has been arrested for violating his or her restraining order. You can also go to the Massachusetts District Court and speak with a Victim/Witness advocate during normal court hours to discuss the restraining order violation and arrest. A Witness / Victim advocate will help explain the charges, provide referral for services, case updates, and what will happen next. Back to Top
  • What is the penality in Massachusetts if my spouse (husband,wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) doesn't attend the court ordered Certified batterers' intervention program?
    Answer: If the Massachusetts court orders your spouse (ex-husband or wife) to attend the certified batterers' intervention program and he or she fail to do so, they can be sent to jail for violating the court order. Back to Top
  • Does Massachusetts offer any programs to rehabilitate batterers or spouses (husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) that have been convicted of abuse?
    Answer: In Massachusetts, the court will order the batterer or abuser to participate in the certified batterers' intervention program for a minimum of 80 hours. The program is designed to help batterers' and abusers learn to accept responsibility for their violence. Back to Top
  • If my spouse, husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) was arrested for violating a Massachusetts 209A abuse protective or restraining order, can he post bail and be released from custody or prison?
    Answer: Yes! At arraignment in District Court, a bail hearing will be heard to determine whether the defendant, batterer, or abuser (husband or wife, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) will be release from custody or jail. If they are released, the court must notify you of the release even if you are not present in court. Back to Top
  • How does a Massachusetts abusive prevention order, restraining order, or 209A protective order define family or household member?
    Answer: A family or household member is defined as spouse, former spouse, present household member, former household member, relative by blood or marriage, parent of your minor child, a person with whom you had a substantial dating relationship. Back to Top
  • Can a temporary restraining order or temporary abuse prevention order issued in Massachusetts be terminated, cancelled, or invalidated?
    Answer: Yes! To improve your chances of terminating, canceling, or invalidating a Massachusetts 209A temporary restraining order (prevention order), you should consider hiring an experienced Massachusetts attorney that has handled a variety of restraining order or abusive prevention order cases such as attorney Robyn A. Briatico. Back to Top
  • Do I have to be physically harmed (hit,punch, slapped) or attacked by my abuser, batterer, partner, or spouse (wife,husband,ex-wife,ex-husband, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) in order to get a 209A protective or restraining order in Massachusetts?
    Answer: Even if you weren't physically harmed, you may still pursue in Massachusetts a 209A abuse protective or restraining order if you were harassed or threatened in any way. This includes any attempt to cause physical harm, causing harm, fear of imminent physical harm, caused or forced you to engage in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress. If your spouse or partner verbally threatens you or threatens to punch, hit, or throw something at you, it can be considered as abuse in Massachusetts. Back to Top
  • What happens to my spouse (wife,husband,ex-wife,ex-husband, family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) if he or she violates a 209A protective or restraining order issued in Massachusetts?
    Answer: A violation of certain terms of a Massachusetts 209A restraining order is considered a criminal offense. Police are required to respond if the abuser fails to vacate the premise, vacate the household, multi-family dwelling or workplace, refrain from abuse and have no contact with you. If your spouse (wife,husband,ex-wife, ex-husband family member(s), household member(s), relative(s) by marriage or a person with whom you have a substantial dating relationship) violates the restraining order, call the local police immediately. You should have the restraining order in your possession at all times. Show the restraining order to the Police and explain how the restraining order was violated.
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