Request an abuse prevention order
Probate & Family Court, Superior Court, Boston Municipal Court, and District Court locations
The Details of Request an abuse prevention order
What you need for Request an abuse prevention order
- G.L. c. 209A (Abuse Prevention Order/Restraining Order) Application Forms (This package of forms includes instructions to plaintiffs, pages 1 and 2 of the complaint, the affidavit, the plaintiff confidential information form, and the defendant information form. Do not email these forms to the court without calling first; emailed applications will not start the application process.)
You may also need to file:
- If you have children:
- 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 Animal(s). Scroll to the last 3 pages for forms.
There is no fee to get an abuse prevention order.
Need help? See resources available regarding abuse or harassment.
How to request Request an abuse prevention order
- During regular business hours on weekdays (8:30 a.m. –4:30 p.m.) — You can call the BMC, District Court, Probate and Family Court, or Superior Court whose jurisdiction covers where you live to complete the necessary paperwork. If you’re not sure what court covers where you live, you can call the closest court on the list and they’ll be able to direct you to the right place.
- If you've left home since the abuse — You can choose to call the court whose jurisdiction covers where you’re staying. Call the civil clerk’s office and tell them you want to ask for a 209A order. They will obtain the required information from you.
- If it’s an emergency and courts are closed — You can call or go to your local police station. The police will obtain the required information from you and then call a judge. If the judge grants the order, the order will be given to you by the police and will tell when and how to contact the court for a further hearing after notice to the defendant.
Next steps for Request an abuse prevention order
After you provide the information to complete the necessary paperwork, 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 whether the defendant has any criminal record. In some courts, court staff may also check your record. Once this is done, you’ll be connected with a judge by phone or video.
If you have asked for an order without the defendant knowing, the judge will look over your papers and ask you some questions. The judge will decide whether or not to give you the order after speaking with you and will coordinate with the clerk to provide a copy of the order to you and the appropriate police department.
The police will attempt to serve the defendant with a copy of the order to give the defendant notice of the terms of the order and of the date and time of the hearing for an opportunity to be heard on whether the relief granted should continue. Your local police department receives a copy of the order. You should also keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
The date and time for the next court hearing will be listed on the order. The name and location of the court that issued the order is at the top of the order. During that hearing, the judge will listen to the evidence and decide if the order should continue to remain in effect, be amended in some way(s), or be ended. Both the plaintiff and the defendant have a right to be heard at the hearing and to present evidence that the judge finds relevant. If you don’t contact the court at the date and time of the next scheduled court hearing, the order will expire at the end of that court day.
If the judge grants the order, the order will say how long it will last, and will tell you when you need to go back to court if you want to renew it.
If you want to renew the order, you’ll need to go back to court on the return/expiration date on the order, and ask for the order to be renewed or the order will expire.
More info for Request an abuse prevention order
If you aren’t given an order or not given everything you request, you can appeal. You have 30 days to appeal after the judge makes their decision. No matter what court issued the order, you must appeal to the Appeals Court. To start your appeal, you must file a Notice of Appeal at the clerk’s office of the court that issued the order within 30 days of your hearing. See the Appeals Court Help Center for more information on the appeals process.
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