How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Massachusetts

Posted about 6 years ago. Applies to Massachusetts, 1 helpful vote



Ask to Speak with an Advocate

An advocate from the district attorney's office, a local non-profit organization, or a member of the clerk's office staff will help explain the process of filing a restraining order, including all the paperwork you need to complete.


Complete the Application and Affidavit

To issue a restraining order, the court must believe that the victim of abuse is in fear of "imminent physical harm". It is important to provide detail in the application about why you are afraid your abuser may cause you physical harm. Often this fear is based on the abuser's past abuse, or threats of abuse. Be sure to tell the court in your application what you want it to do. For example, do you need him to stay away from your job, your home and your children's school? If so, you need to provide the addresses of those places. You may also ask that your current address be impounded so that he doesn't know where you are if you've moved. Finally, be sure to provide as much information as possible about where he may be so that the police can serve the order on him.


Focus on the Judge

The courtroom can be an intimidating place, but most judges will call you up to the bench, where it's a little more private. Though it may be embarrassing to describe what happened to you, try your best to be as detailed as possible and to answer the judge's questions as directly as possible. The judge only needs enough information to decide that it is "more likely than not" that you are in fear of imminent physical harm. If your abuser does not show up to the hearing, the order will usually issue automatically, at least for the first ten days. After that, there will be a hearing where the order can be extended for a year. After the year is over, you can return to the court and ask for a permanent order.

Additional Resources

For more information about the restraining order process in Massachusetts, go to

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