If the judge gives me the order, what happens next?
The 209A protective order that you get from the first hearing is temporary. The temporary order will last for up to ten days. The abusive person has the right to talk to the court at a second hearing. You will need to go back to court for the second hearing to get an order that lasts longer. There are ways to stay safe at the second hearing.
At the end of your first hearing, the judge will tell you the date for the second hearing. The judge will then give the file back to the clerk's office to type up the order. It might take a little while for the clerk's office to type it.
You should wait to get a copy of the order from the clerk's office. Read the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information on it is right. If something is not right, go back to the clerk and explain what is wrong. If the clerk can't help you, you will need to go back in front of the judge to get the order corrected.
Once you have the order, keep a copy of it on you at all times. It is important to have the order on you so you can show it to the police if the abusive person does something that is against the order.
If the order says the abusive person must stay away from your work or your child’s school, make sure you give those places a copy so that they know. You may also want to keep spare copies of the order in other places, like your car, with your babysitter, your child's doctors, your friend's house, your parent's house, etc.
If you lose your copy of the order, you need to go back to the same court and ask them for another copy.
What happens after I get my copy of the temporary order?
The police have to serve the abusive person with the order so that he knows about it. The order does not start working until he gets notice of it.
The clerk's office will tell you whether they will send the order to the police or whether you must take the order to the police.
The order does not start working until the police serve the abusive person with a copy of the order. It may take the police a little while to find him. The police should tell you when they have given him a copy of the order. Check with the police if you do not hear from them within a few hours.
If your order says that the abusive person must leave your home, the police will serve him and they will wait while he leaves.
If I have my temporary order, why do I have to go back to court so soon for a second hearing?
If you want to keep your 209A protective order, you must go back to court on the date the judge sets for the second hearing. The order runs out on the date of the second hearing. The second hearing is set up to give the abusive person a chance to tell the judge his side of the story.
The date for the second hearing is usually 10 days after the first hearing. Sometimes the second hearing is called the "10-day hearing." But some courts will set a date for the second hearing in less than ten days.
What happens at the second hearing if the abusive person did not get a copy of the order from the police?
If the police are not able to serve the abusive person with a copy of the order before the date for the second hearing, the judge will set a new date for the second hearing. The new date will probably be another 10 or so days later. The judge will write something saying that your temporary order is good until the new date.
What happens if he got a copy of the order but does not show up for the second hearing?
The hearing will go forward as long as he got "notice" of the hearing (he was served with the papers). If he does not show up, the judge can go ahead and give you a new order that lasts longer. The judge may ask you a few questions about:
- what happened,
- why you need the order, and
- what you want the order to say.
What happens at the second hearing if he does show up in court?
If the abusive person gets a copy of the order and shows up for the second hearing, there are a few things you should know. He will have had a chance to read your statement. You will both need to be in the courtroom for the hearing. This can be very scary. Maybe you have not seen him since the last time he abused you, and you are afraid of seeing him. If you can, bring someone with you for support: a friend, a family member, or an advocate.
- If he threatens you while you are there, you can tell the clerk or the “court officer” right away. The “court officer” is the man or woman in a security uniform in the courtroom.
The judge will let both you and the abusive person explain what happened. You will get a chance to explain why you need the order. He will get a chance to say why he thinks you do not need the order. The judge will probably want you both to stand up close to her bench. If your abuser tries to stand next to you, you can ask the court officer or your advocate to stand between you.
Before the hearing, try to think of all the things (including untrue things) that the abusive person might say. You want to know what to expect. At the hearing, make sure to keep your cool, no matter what he says. Never talk directly to the abusive person while you are in front of the judge. Speak to the judge.
If the abusive person says something that is not true, tell the judge that he is not telling the truth. Most of the time, you should try not to interrupt the abusive person while he is talking to the judge. But, if he says really crazy things, you can say: "Objection, your honor. May I interrupt for a minute?" or, "May I be allowed to respond when he is finished?" If the judge lets you respond, do not stoop to your abuser's level. Instead, explain why what he said is wrong, and tell the judge what really happened.
If you have any of the following things, be sure to bring them with you and show them to the judge:
- medical records about your injuries from the abuse,
- police reports about the abuse,
- photos of what you looked like after the abuse,
- objects or clothing that the abusive person broke or tore,
- any person who saw the abuse and is willing to talk to the judge about it,
- any other documents you think would help the judge understand what really happened.
Do not worry if you do not have any of these things. What you say in court also counts as "evidence."
At the end of the hearing, the judge will tell you if she is going to give you the 209A protective order.
How long should the order last?
Guideline 6:02 (page 117) says that the order should be extended for one year.
The order can last for less than a year if you ask for a shorter period or if the judge decides that a shorter period is justified. The Guidelines say that it should not be court routine or policy to issue orders for less than a year.
What can I do if the judge does not grant the order?
In some cases, the judge decides not to give a 209A protective order. If this happens to you, and you still think you need the order, talk to an advocate about what you can do to appeal the judge's decision.
Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services. Updated and revised by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp Last updated February, 2012