Want to share what you like about MassLegalHelp with us?


You can get a 209A Restraining Order when the courts are closed

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed October 2023

When the courts are closed a judge is "on call." If you need a restraining order when the courts are not open, you can go to a police station.

The "on call" judge talks to the police first, to make sure that:

  1. You have filled out a 209A Complaint and Affidavit;
  2. The police have checked the court records to see if there are any past or present restraining orders involving the defendant. The court records are  Court Activity Record Information (CARI) and the Statewide Registry of Civil Restraining Orders;
  3. The police have checked the Warrant Management System to see if there are any warrants out on the defendant.

After the police give the information to the judge, the judge speaks directly to you.

If the judge grants the emergency order, it is only temporary. It is only in effect until the end of the next business day that a judge is at the court. The judge should tell you to go to the court at 9:00 a.m. for a hearing. The judge should tell you that the order will end at the close of the business day if you do not appear in court.

The judge and the police officer should be sure that there will actually be a judge at the court on the next business day.

The police take the papers to the proper court.

See Section 11:00 2021 Guidelines, page 232.

Which court will the "on call" judge tell you to go to the next business day?

The "on call" judge will usually send you to the District Court or Boston Municipal Court where you live.

Sometimes the "on call" judge will send you to a Probate and Family Court but only if:

  1. you and the defendant are already involved in a Probate and Family Court case where
    • custody or visitation is an issue or
    • custody or visitation is likely to be an issue because you filed the 209A,


  2. you agree to the case being sent to the Probate and Family Court.

Even if you do agree, the judge should not send you to a Probate and Family Court if:

  1. the defendant was arrested because of the abuse or a warrant has been issued or the police will ask for a warrant, or
  2. the correct Probate and Family Court is not available on a regular, full-time basis, or
  3. you cannot get to the correct Probate and Family Court.

See Section 11:00 2021 Guidelines, page 232.

Who to call for help

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm