There is no charge to get an abuse prevention order.
If you need help with getting an order, the Mass. Office of Victim Assistance offers a program called SAFEPLAN that provides people to help you in many courts across the state.
There are other programs in some courts that provide people who can help you fill out the forms and go with you to the courtroom. In some cases the advocate is from the local domestic violence service provider. In other cases, District Attorney Office victim-witness advocates assist people in filing for a 209A order. A list of domestic violence service providers can be found at Jane Doe, Inc. People at these organizations can tell you if they have court advocates or, if not, how to reach a court advocate.
If you need help immediately such as safety planning or shelter, call the SAFELINK hotline at 1-877-785-2020, which can find you a domestic violence program or shelter near you.
Where do I apply for an abuse prevention order?
During regular business hours on weekdays, you can go to the Boston Municipal, District, Probate and Family or Superior Court whose jurisdiction covers where you live. See Court Locator . If you are unsure what court covers where you live, you can call the closest court on the list and they will be able to direct you to the right place.
If you have left home since the abuse, you can choose to go to a court whose jurisdiction covers where you are staying. Go to the civil clerk’s office and tell them you want to ask for a 209A order. They will give you the forms you need.
If you are in crisis and courts are closed, you can call or go to your local police station. The police will give you the forms to fill out and then call a judge. If the judge grants the order, it is only temporary until the next court business day. The order given to you by the police will tell you which court and when you need to be at the court.
What forms do I file?
See Restraining Order Forms for forms and information in English and six other languages.
You will always file:
- Complaint for Protection from Abuse including an affidavit in support of your request
- Defendant Information Form
- Plaintiff Confidential Information Form
You may also need:
If you have children:
- Complaint for Protection from Abuse page 2
- Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings file size 1MB
If you want custody of your pets, or an order to keep the defendant from abusing your pets:
- Petition and Order Issued Pursuant to GL c.209A, s.11 Relative to Domesticated Animals , Scroll to last three pages for forms.
What happens next?
After you fill out the forms, give them back to the clerk’s office. Court staff will check to see if the defendant is wanted by the police, if there are or have been other restraining orders against the defendant, and/or whether the defendant has any criminal record. In some courts, court staff may also check your record. Once this is done, you will be brought into the courtroom.
Going into court
After you file your papers, you will appear before a judge. If you have asked for an order without the defendant knowing, the defendant will not be there. The judge will look over your papers and ask you some questions. The judge will decide whether or not to give you the order while you are still there. You will be given a copy of the order by the Clerk’s office after the hearing is over.
The police will attempt to serve the defendant with a copy of the order. Your local police department receives a copy of the order. You should also keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
Abuse Prevention Orders for Plaintiffs
- Abuse Prevention Orders: Information for Plaintiffs (People Seeking Orders)
- What is Abuse?
- Who Can I Be Protected Against?
- What Can I Request Under an Abuse Prevention Order?
- How Do I Get an Abuse Prevention Order?
- How Long Does the Order Last?
- 10 Day Hearing
- How Do I Appeal?
- What Happens if the Defendant Does Something He or She is Not Supposed to Do?
- What if I Want to Change or Terminate (End) the Order?
- More Information for People Seeking Abuse Prevention Orders