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You can ask for a 209A Restraining Order even if you go to the "wrong" court

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

What is the “right” court?

If you need a 209A protective order, you are supposed to go to  the court that covers the area where you live.  If you moved away because you were being abused, you can still go to the court where you used to live.  You can also go to the court that covers your new residence.

What if I go to the “wrong” court?

You may end up at the “wrong” court, a court that does not cover either your new or your old residence.

  1. If you go to the “wrong” court by mistake, the judge should only send you to the “right” court if they are sure that:
    1. it is safe for you to go to the “right” court
    2. it is early enough in the day to get a hearing at the “right” court; and
    3. you have transportation to get to the “right” court.
  2. if the judge sends you to the “right” court, they should tell the court to expect you.
  3. if the judge decides not to send you to the “right” court. You can ask the judge to hear your case. The judge should then hold your hearing.

If the judge issues an emergency order, it can last for up to ten days.   The next hearing will take place at the “right” court. You will get a notice about where to go.

See Section 1:09 of the 2011 Guidelines, page 27.

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