If you have been abused, you can seek an immediate court order protecting you and your child from future harm. In Massachusetts this is called a “restraining order” or “abuse prevention order” or “209A.” You can seek this order if the other parent has harmed you physically, tried to harm you physically, made you afraid that you will be harmed physically, or forced or pressured you to have sex. A protective order may temporarily decide custody and visitation. You can seek this type of order in the Probate and Family Court for your county, or in a District Court in your neighborhood. See Abuse Prevention Orders for more information.

If you do not feel you need immediate protection, you can also follow the steps below to get a custody order. There are special laws that can provide you with additional protections if you are concerned about your safety or your child’s safety. It is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced lawyer if you have been abused. Please see Finding a Lawyer for information about obtaining legal assistance.