This is a question I’m asked very often. And there’s a reason that the question is on so many people’s minds. The answer has to do with the extremely severe legal and, yes, political, environment that surrounds the availability of and issuance of restraining orders in Massachusetts. These Orders fall under the category of Massachusetts Domestic Violence laws.
For starters, while everyone calls these orders “restraining orders” (and there is no problem doing that,) legally speaking, they’re known as “Abuse Prevention Orders”. They are authorized by statute through M.G.L. Ch. 209A, and as a result are referred to informally by attorneys, police Departments and court personnel as “209A Orders”. Anyone falling within certain statutory definitions can apply to a court for one of these orders, so long as the following conditions are met.
- The applicant must be in fear of imminent, actual harm from:
- Another person who is a member of the applicant’s immediate family; OR
- Another person who residing in the same household as the applicant; OR
- Another non-related person who is not married to the applicant, but who is in an ongoing dating relationship who the applicant.