209A Restraining Orders in Massachusetts

You're Being Accused of Serious Abuse. We Can Help.

209A Restraining Order Attorney

Relationships and family relations can be complicated and at times matters can become confrontational and, unfortunately, violent.  Being accused of abusing another person, and having that play out in a public forum, is terrifying and embarrassing.  Beyond that, the issuance of a restraining order is recorded in the Statewide Registry of Civil Restraining Orders and will forever be a part of your permanent record with damaging effects on your reputation, your family and your ability to earn a living.  In the worst-case scenario, violation of a 209A restraining order is a criminal offense carrying the possibility of jail time.

Issuance of a 209A Restraining Order 

The fundamental purpose of proceedings under G.L. c. 209A is to adjudicate the need for protection from abuse and, if that need is found to exist, to issue abuse prevention orders.

Under the statute, "abuse" is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

(a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm;

(b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;

(c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.

In turn, "family or household members" is defined as persons who:

(a) are or were married to one another;

(b) are or were residing together in the same household;

(c) are or were related by blood or marriage;

(d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or

(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, with consideration of the following factors:

(1) the length of time of the relationship;

(2) the type of relationship;

(3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and

(4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

As 209A hearings are not criminal. the standard of proof is the civil standard of preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff has the burden of proof at both the ex parte hearing and any subsequent hearing after notice. Both sides have the right to introduce

Due process requires that no order after notice be issued against a person without actual notice and the opportunity to be heard.  If the defendant fails to appear, the court must have some basis on which to conclude that the defendant received notice, but, by ignoring the proceedings, waived the right to be heard.

Free Consultation on any Massachusetts 209A Hearing

If you would like to speak about your case and get an expert opinion, please call or text us at any time at 617-723-4163, email at inquiry@equitas.law or use our contact form, above.  We will listen to the facts of your case, address your concerns and let you know what your options are.

The initial consultation is free and there is no pressure to hire.  If you choose to hire us, we will give you a reasonable fee agreement, including possible payment options.

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209A Restraining Order FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

No.  209A hearings are open to the public and the application, including the allegations, are public records.  A judge can impound certain information about the Plaintiff upon request, such as address and phone numbers.

However, if either the plaintiff or defendant are minors, the records must be withheld from public inspection except by order of the court.

Yes.  If the Plaintiff or Defendant is a minor, a parent or guardian should file the petition on behalf of the minor (or appear with the minor), although the court can issue the order without a parent if necessary through appointment of counsel or a guardian ad litem.

In the Probate and Family Court Department, the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure apply to c. 209A actions. In the District Court and Superior Court departments, the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure may be applied in the court’s discretion and only after a hearing and only upon a showing that such discovery is necessary to provide specific information essential to the adjudication of the case.

At the beginning of the hearing, the judge will ask the plaintiff whether there are any outstanding court orders involving the same parties in the same or a different court. Except in limited circumstances, the court should not order any relief that is inconsistent with any existing order in any other court.  The court may, however, issue temporary orders where there is an allegation or threat of serious harm to the children who are the subject of an existing custody or visitation order and the plaintiff is unable to reach the Probate and Family Court.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our restraining order cases are handled on a flat fee basis and all we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

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