How to change or end a 209A restraining order

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

File a Plaintiff’s Motion to Modify or Terminate Abuse Prevention Order if you already have a restraining order and you need to:

  • change an order that is in effect now, or
  • end an order that is in effect now.

If your pets need protection and you did not ask for the 209A order before, you can ask for them to include them now. File:

  1. Plaintiff’s Motion to Modify or Terminate Abuse Prevention Order, and
  2. Petition Filed Pursuant to G.L. c. 209A, § 11 Relative To Domesticated Animal(s)
What happens after I file the motion?

If you are asking to change your order to add more protections, usually the court schedules a hearing in 1-2 weeks where you can explain your request to the judge.

The court mails to the defendant:

  • a copy of your motion, and
  • notice of the upcoming hearing date so they can come to court and oppose it if they want to.

At that hearing, you must explain to the judge why the new protections are necessary for your safety. If you need more protection right away, see below.

If you are asking to remove parts of your order (for example, you want the defendant to be allowed to contact you but you still want the order to be in effect), you will probably see a judge right after you file your motion. Since you are asking for there to be fewer protections, the court does not need to let the defendant know in advance. They will send the defendant a copy of the changed order afterward.

If you are asking to end your order, you would also see a judge right away. The judge will want to make sure you aren't being pressured to end the order.

Learn more about changing or ending your order if you are getting back together with the defendant.

What if I need more protection right away?

You might want to change the 209A order right away in some cases. For example, you may want to add your children to the order because of a new risk to them.

Use the Plaintiff's Emergency Ex Parte Motion to Modify Abuse Prevention Order.

In the motion:

  1. Copy the part of your 209A order you need the judge to change.
  2. Give the reasons why you need the judge to change that part right away so it gives you more protection. On the motion form write in the box after "In support of this request, the Plaintiff states:"
    1. What happened that shows you need more protection right away, and
    2. How it would put you in danger if the defendant found out about the motion before you got a hearing to change the order.
How can I keep my information confidential?

If it is important to keep any information confidential, you can ask the court to impound the information. See Keeping your information safe.

Will I need to prove my identity?

Yes. The court should be sure the person who wants to change or end a current 209A restraining order is actually the person who filed the complaint in the first place.

To stop someone from trying to impersonate you, the court clerk should ask for identification from anyone who asks to modify or terminate a 209A order.

If you ask the court to change or end your 209A order, they should compare the signature on your motion with the signature on your original complaint. They should make sure the 2 signatures match.

What if the other person tries to change or end my restraining order against them?

The defendant in a restraining order can file a request to modify or terminate a restraining order. If they do, the court will schedule a hearing and mail you a copy of the motion with the hearing date so you can attend and oppose the request.

The defendant might be asking for parts of the order to be removed or for the whole order to be ended. The defendant has to show there has been:

  • a change in circumstances since the order was issued, and
  • the order (or the parts they want removed) is no longer necessary for your protection.

They have to show this with “clear and convincing” evidence which is a higher standard than what you usually have to show in a restraining order hearing. This means that the defendant has the responsibility to prove that you do not need the order or its protections.

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Who to call for help with domestic violence
DV - Who to call for help

Call 911 if you are in danger right now.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact:

See Jane Doe's list of Massachusetts domestic violence programs and court resources for safety and support.

Get help applying for a 209A
DV Help applying for 209A


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