Chapter 209A allows a judge to issue a variety of types of court orders including an order that the defendant not abuse you, not contact you, stay away from your home and work address and not possess any firearms.  An abuse prevention order can include any provisions that a judge thinks are needed to keep you safe.

Can I get an abuse prevention order without telling the defendant?

The court may issue an abuse prevention order without the defendant having notice if there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.  Such an order is called an ex parte order.  You file a complaint form that includes an affidavit (described below) and a hearing is held right away without letting the defendant know.   The court can issue an ex parte order that can last for up to ten business days.  The court will schedule a hearing within ten business days and then notify the defendant about the ex parte order.  The defendant has a right to attend that hearing to argue that all or part of the order should not be continued.  At that hearing, often referred to as the 10 day hearing, the judge will hear from you and the defendant, if the defendant appears.

The judge may also decide not to issues an ex parte order at that time. If the judge does not does not think that there is a basis to grant an abuse prevention order, the request will be denied. If the judge thinks that there is not a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, the request may be put off and a hearing set up at a later time.  The defendant will be given notice of that hearing and have the right to attend that hearing.  At this hearing both you and the defendant will have the right to tell the court why an abuse prevention order should or should not issue.  If the judge does not issue an ex parte order but wants to set up a hearing where the defendant will be present, you may decide not to go forward with your complaint and ask that the hearing not be scheduled.

You can request that the defendant be ordered not to abuse you. This means that:

  1. The defendant shall not physically assault or threaten you.
  2. The defendant shall not do anything that makes you reasonably fear that the defendant might cause you physical harm.
  3. The defendant shall not use force or a threat of any kind to make you have sex unwillingly.  

You can request that the defendant be ordered to have no contact with you. This means that:  

  1. The defendant shall not live with you.
  2. The defendant must stay a specific number of feet/yards away from you.  The distance that the defendant must remain away from you is be listed on the order
  3. The defendant shall not contact you in any way.  This includes, but is not limited to, phone calls, text messages, emails, gifts and contact through friends, relatives, neighbors or anyone else, sending or posting messages on facebook, twitter or any other social media site, unless specifically allowed in the order.
  4. If you are already at a place and the defendant comes to that same location, the defendant must leave that place as quickly as possible.

You can request that the defendant be ordered to leave a residence (home). This means that:

  1. The defendant must leave your residence immediately and stay away from that residence while the order is in effect.  The defendant must stay away from the residence even if you are not there at the time.  If the residence is an apartment, the defendant may be ordered to remain away from the entire building, even if the lease is in the defendant’s name.
  2. The defendant shall not damage the residence in any way.
  3. The defendant shall not shut off any utilities or interrupt your mail delivery.

You can request that the defendant be ordered to stay away from your work. This means:  

The defendant must stay away from the place where you work as long as the order is in effect.  The defendant must stay away from that workplace even if you are not there at the time.

You can request that your residential, workplace and/or school address not appear on the order.

If the defendant does not know your current residential, workplace or school address(es) you may request that these addresses be kept confidential.  This information would only be available to the court, the police, the district attorney or others specifically allowed by you or the court.  In all cases, this information is not available to the public.

You can request that you be given custody of children. This means:

The children will live with you unless or until a judge changes that order.

You can request that the defendant be also ordered to have no contact with the children. This means:

  1. The defendant must stay a specific number of feet/yards away from them (the distance is listed on the order) and have no contact with them while the order is in effect unless and until a judge permits contact with the children.  
  2. The court can also order the defendant to stay a specific number of feet/yards away from a child’s school or daycare.
  3. If the defendant is permitted to have contact with the children but not with you and the children live with you, the defendant must speak only to the children, not to you.
  4. The Probate Court can change a District Court Judge’s restraining order with regard to custody and contact with children.  Even if the Probate Court changes the parts of the order that deal with the children, all other parts of the District Court order remain in effect.

You may request that the defendant be ordered to pay certain money. This means:

  1. The defendant can be ordered to pay temporary support if he or she might be legally obligated to do so (for example, if you are married),
  2. The defendant can be ordered to pay child support for his or her children, or
  3. The defendant can be ordered to pay for costs related to the abuse, such as medical bills, lost wages or for changing the locks.

If the judge issues a 209A order, the defendant will be ordered to surrender (give up) firearms. This means:

  1. The defendant must immediately transfer possession of any firearms, ammunition, license to carry a firearm or firearms identification card that he/she has to the police department listed on the order.
  2. The defendant may not purchase any firearms or ammunition while the order is in effect.