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An abuse prevention order is a court order. That means that only a judge can change the order. The person who requested the order CANNOT change or end the order without returning to court. Even if the plaintiff seems to request or allow conduct forbidden by the order, you will be in violation of the abuse prevention order unless a judge has changed it.
If you are ordered not to abuse the plaintiff, this means that:
If you are ordered to have no contact with the plaintiff, this means that:
If you are ordered to leave a residence (home), this means that:
If you have been ordered to stay away from your home, the order may permit you to, in the company of the local police, pick up your personal belongings at a time agreed to by the plaintiff. Contact the local police so that they can arrange a time to go with you to the house so that you can get your clothes and other things you may need.
If you are ordered to stay away from the plaintiff’s work, this means:
If the plaintiff has been given custody of children, this means:
If you are ordered to have no contact with the children, this means that:
If you are ordered to pay certain money, this means:
If you are ordered to surrender (give up) firearms, this means:
The date and time of the next court hearing is listed on the order. The name and location of the court that issued the order is listed at the top right hand corner of the order. It will usually be in about ten days, but sometimes it is sooner than ten days. It is very important that you do not do anything to violate the order during the time between when you get the order and your first hearing. You can hire an attorney during this time. You may also go to the court that issued your order and ask to get a copy of the court file.
It is very important that you go to the hearing. If you are not there, the order may be extended for up to one year. On the day of the hearing, get to court early, so that you can find the right courtroom. Ask the people in the Clerk’s office for help if you cannot find the right courtroom. You may need to wait in the courtroom for your case to be called.
During the hearing, the judge will listen to the evidence and decide if the order should continue in its present form, be amended in some way(s), or be terminated (ended). Both the plaintiff and the defendant have a right to be heard at the hearing and to present evidence that the judge finds is relevant.
If the judge grants the order, it will normally be good for one year, but it may be for a shorter time. The order will say how long it will last, and will tell you when you need to go back to court if the plaintiff wants to renew it. You need to pay careful attention to the next hearing date, because if you miss the next hearing it could be renewed for another year or even made permanent without you getting a chance to be heard on whether or not the order should be extended or changed.
If you want to change or end the order, you can come to the court that issued the order Mon.- Fri: 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. to file a request that the judge make changes or end the order. The Clerk-Magistrate’s Office can assist you in the filing of documents to make this request. A hearing will be set and the plaintiff will be given notice of the hearing. The court staff will tell you if they will let the plaintiff know about the hearing or if you need to send the plaintiff notice by mail and when that has to be done.
You have 30 days to appeal after the judge issues the order. No matter what court issued the order, you must appeal to the Massachusetts 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 thirty days of your hearing. See the Appeals Court Help Center for information on the appeals process.