All About Restraining Orders and How to File One In Massachusetts

If you are located in Boston, a restraining order means a legal order by a Massachusetts state court that provides protection from physical and sexual harm and threat. Often, restraining orders are filed against a specific member of one’s immediate family in the event of domestic violence.

According to the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act (209A Protective Orders), an act can be defined as abuse if any of the following happens more than once between the victim and another family member:

● Threatening of physical harm
● Attempting to inflict physical harm
● Forcing of nonconsensual sexual act

If you or someone you know may need to file a restraining order in Boston, it is essential to know the ins and outs of this procedure to achieve the best possible outcome.

Who Are Considered Household Members?
● Blood relative
● Current or former spouse
● A person related to one through marriage
● The other parent of one’s child
● Former roommate
● Former partner

What Are the Types of Restraining Orders?

In Massachusetts, a restraining order is a civil complaint and only acquires criminal status in the event of a violation. The state has two types of orders: No-Contact Order and No-Abuse Order. The latter is granted only if the parties still live together.

A restraining order can be obtained from the District Court and the Probate Court (Family Court) and rarely from the Superior Court. Take note that you do not strictly need a lawyer to file a restraining order. A Boston restraining order attorney can offer valuable support and assistance, but it is not a legal requirement the moment you file the document—especially in an emergency.
Social workers are always available at the District Court to guide individuals seeking a restraining order throughout the whole process.

How Do You File a Restraining Order?

As mentioned above, there are three places where a restraining order can be filed. However, keep in mind that Superior Courts are not well equipped to handle this type of order and are confined within their specific jurisdiction. If you have a pending case in the Probate Court (e.g.,guardianship, custody, or divorce), it’s best to file your restraining order in this same court so allcases can be examined together.

In addition, emergency restraining orders after working hours can be filed at any police station and are valid for 24 hours. You will need to appear in a District Court the following day for an extension and another ten days after that for an extension of a whole year.

What Is a Restraining Order Hearing Like?

Considered a mini-trial, a restraining order hearing entails the burden of proof production, rules of evidence, and other court procedures. If the abuser brings along an attorney at the hearings, it is best for the victim to have a lawyer present as well.

Abusers can seek a reciprocal restraining order or request mutual restraining orders from the court. This is why having an attorney by your side as the case progresses is crucial to guide you through every stage of this legal process.


A restraining order is a valuable legal document to possess, but it can’t protect you from all intentional harm from a violent individual. Take advantage of the benefit to seek a restraining order any time; however, do not hesitate to ask for help from authorities, domestic violence shelters, and professional counselors if you think that you or someone you know is in immediate
or potential danger.

If you need a restraining order attorney in Boston, reach out to Attorney Joe Markey at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. We take pride in having Boston’s leading personal injury and criminal lawyers who are ready to assist our clients. Contact us now for a free consultation.

Contact Information