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Massachusetts Domestic Violence Abuse Prevention Orders

Note: Any person in an emergency situation requiring immediate intervention should call 911 for assistance.

What Protective Orders Are Available?

In Massachusetts, a restraining order or abuse protective order is a legal document issued by a judge to protect the health and safety of a person who is alleged to be a victim of domestic violence . Specifically, an abuse prevention order is a civil order that provides protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force or threat from a family or household member.

What Type of Protective Orders are Available?

An abuse prevention order is known as a "209A order," or a "protective order." There are three types of orders:

1. Emergency Order: Lasts until the next court business day. It's an emergency protective order designed to protect a victim in immediate danger. You may get an emergency order by going to the nearest police department or calling 911. For the protection to remain in effect, you must go to court before the close of the next business day to request an abuse prevention order. A judge will grant the temporary order only if s/he believes that you are in immediate danger of a severe injury.

2. Temporary (ex parte) order: Generally lasts 10 days or until a full hearing on a final order. When you go to court to file for a final abuse prevention order, you can also ask for a temporary order.

3. Final Abuse Protection Order: Lasts up to 1 (one) year or can be permanent.

In Which County Can I File for an Abuse Prevention Order?

A victim can file for an abuse prevention order in the county where he or she lives, or if the victim has left their home to avoid abuse, he or she has the option of filing in the county in which he or she is temporarily living.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Massachusetts temporary protective order laws. See Harassment, Restraining Orders, and Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit for more information.

Code Sections Protective Orders: 209A Orders
Who Can Ask for a Protection Order?

Anyone who is being abused by:

  • A spouse or former spouse,
  • Someone you live with or used to live with,
  • A relative by blood or marriage,
  • The parent of your child, or
  • A person you have or had a substantial dating relationship with.
Type of Orders

Abuse Prevention Orders, 209A Order, three (3) types emergency, ex parte and final orders.

Length of Ex Parte Order

Expires after 10 (ten) days unless extended

Length of Final Protective Order

One (1) year or longer in some circumstances

How to Apply

File a petition in court or at the request of the district attorney, or a law enforcement officer in connection with a criminal case.

Penalty for Violations

Criminal contempt charges and/or more formal criminal charges including a jail sentence, fines, etc.


Because domestic laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced domestic violence attorney or a legal aid provider if you have questions about your specific situation.

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