What are Grounds for a Restraining Order in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has strict laws regarding restraining orders. If you have been served with a restraining order in Massachusetts, you must seek the assistance of a reputable Massachusetts attorney to defend you. Our expert attorneys at the Bellotti Law Group, P.C. will give you the assistance you need to file or defend against a restraining order. Call 617-225-2100 for a free consultation. 

What are the Common Reasons for Getting a Restraining Order?

Person Pointing Someone A restraining order can prohibit someone from harassing, bothering, or stalking you. In divorce cases, you can apply for a restraining order to prevent your former spouse from contacting or getting near you and your children. This is particularly crucial if there is a likelihood that your former spouse could physically harm or psychologically abuse you and your children. You may also seek a restraining order to prevent the loss or damage of your property. 

Couple Fighting While Kid is Scared Types of Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are a civil complaint in Massachusetts, and they only become criminal if they are violated. There are two types of restraining orders: abuse prevention orders (209A) and harassment prevention orders (258E). The distinctions are described in more detail here. 
Grounds for Getting a Restraining Order in Massachusetts

Under the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act (209A Protective Orders), petitioners are protected against physical or sexual abuse by a relative or household member under this sort of order. The defendant is refrained from contacting, abusing, or living with the petitioner. This shields the petitioner from damage or the fear of harm induced by force. A 209A Order can also grant temporary custody of a minor child to the petitioner. The state refers to a household or a family member as:
  • Someone you've dated
  • Someone you used to live with
  • Your current or previous spouse
  • Your child's other parent
  • Someone you're connected to by marriage
  • Someone you're related to through blood
To obtain a restraining order in Massachusetts, you must prove that there has been a prior incident of violence. Prior incidents include assault, harassment, stalking, terroristic threats, and other forms of harassment. You can allege several instances of domestic violence, but to get a restraining order, you must have at least one of the specified predicate acts of domestic violence. To be eligible for the emergency relief provided by a restraining order, the predicate act(s) must have happened recently. If these acts of domestic abuse happened, the plaintiff should petition for a restraining order immediately.

It's also important to show a history of domestic violence. Beyond the predicate act of domestic violence that happened above, most cases also need proof of a history of domestic violence. In some circumstances, if the predicate act of domestic violence is very heinous, a history of domestic violence isn't required to get a restraining order. To obtain a restraining order, you must be able to demonstrate to the judge that the restraining order is necessary to safeguard your well-being. Restraining orders are given to avoid harassment and violence. The following are some examples of when a restraining order may be necessary:
  • There is proof that the defendant has a personal grudge against the victim (for example, criminal damage)
  • Instances in which the defendant and victim are acquainted or have previously been involved in an intimate connection (for example, domestic violence cases)
  • Both parties maintain regular communication (for example, where the victim and defendant run a local business
  • Before a restraining order may be obtained in any of these situations, the victim must show a fear of potential harm. Generalized fear, nervousness, irritation, or a sense of being harassed is not enough to fulfill the criteria. In order to obtain a restraining order, you must be able to show that you have a reasonable and necessary fear that your abuser may harm you. 
Some Important Considerations

On the application form for a restraining order, a sworn declaration (affidavit) is needed. The affidavit describes the facts of current or prior incidents of abuse. It's also crucial to supply details about the abuser. Details about the abuser include his or her workplace, phone number, birth date, and social security number. The abuser can be ordered by the court to:
  • Stop the abuse
  • Stop all contact with the victim 
  • Leave a home 
  • Leave their employment
  • Surrender guns and firearm identification cards

Police Officer Arresting a Person After a restraining order is issued, violating the order is a crime. If law enforcement officers suspect or observe the abuser violating the order, they must arrest the individual. If you have filed a restraining order and notice that the abuser is disobeying the order, you should contact law enforcement immediately. Make sure to carry the order with you at all times. Additionally, it will help to make sure your neighbors, employers, and child care providers are aware of the order and the contents of the order.



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