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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 October 2023

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.

The Guidelines call the "right" court, the court that "has venue."

What if I go to the “wrong” court?

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

If you go to the “wrong” court, the judge should never tell you go to another court​.

If the judge issues an emergency order, it can last up to 10 days. The next hearing takes place at the same court where the judge gave you the emergency order.

The person you need to be protected from, the defendant, may object to the wrong court hearing your case. If the judge agrees to the objection, they can transfer the case to the "right" court. The judge should not dismiss your case just because you asked the "wrong" court for a 209A protective order.

The Guidelines call the "wrong" court, the "court without venue."

See Section 1:09 Plaintiff in Court Without Venue of the 2021 Guidelines, page 49.

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