Annually, thousands of men and women in Massachusetts have a 209A Restraining Order issued against them. These orders are often used as leverage in divorce, custody, and property disputes. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for restraining orders to be used for reasons far beyond the intended purpose of the law.
What is a 209A Order?
A 209A order is an abuse prevention order. It is a civil court order designed to protect the filer from physical or sexual harm from a family or household member.
Getting such an order is relatively simple. They are granted against:
- Spouses/former spouses
- Current or past household members
- Blood relatives or former/present relatives by marriage
- Parents of a minor child
- Someone the plaintiff is or has been dating
What Can the Plaintiff Request?
The victim may ask the court to apply an order:
- Preventing the defendant from abusing the victim or a child in the victim’s custody
- Prohibiting contact with the victim or a child in the victim’s custody
- Removing the defendant from the victim’s home, even if the rental agreement or title to the house is in the defendant’s name
- Requiring the defendant to pay support to the victim or a child in the victim’s custody
- Requiring the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s medical costs, any lost wages from time off work, legal fees, and other costs associated with the abuse.
- Requiring the defendant to attend an intervention program
What Happens Next?
Once an application is completed, it’s heard by a judge who reviews the complaint. The judge will determine if the victim is under immediate and substantial risk. Sometimes a 209a briefing session will be held prior to the actual hearing. A court advocate may assist the plaintiff by remaining in the courtroom for the duration. If the judge grants the order, a Temporary Order may be issued for a period of 10 days. The order will be immediately served to the defendant. It will include a date for the next hearing, which will take place within 10 days of the initial hearing. The judge will determine whether the temporary order will become a permanent order at the second hearing. A permanent order may last up to one year.
What Can You do to Change or End the Order?
To change the order, you and the plaintiff will have to appear before the court where the order was granted. You can request changes, amendments, or vacation of the order at the clerk’s office, as can the plaintiff.
A 209A Order Needs to be Taken Seriously
A 209A order needs to be taken seriously. Our skilled, knowledgeable attorneys are always prepared to respond immediately to anyone who needs counsel and representation upon receipt of a 209A order. If you have questions about your rights and how our experienced legal team can protect your freedom and reputation, contact Keegan Law today for a free and confidential consultation.