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What happens at the 10-day 209A restraining order hearing?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

The order the judge made at the ex-parte hearing can only be good for up to 10 business-days. The 2nd hearing is scheduled for the date the order expires. This 2nd hearing is called the “10-day hearing.” You must return to court for the 10-day hearing if you want a restraining order to last longer.

If the defendant shows up for the 10-day hearing,

  • They might have read your affidavit. If they did not read your affidavit before the hearing, they can read can read it now.
  • You will both be in the courtroom at the same time.
  • You tell the judge why you need the order to be safe.
  • They have the right to talk to the judge and explain why you do not need a restraining order.
  • The judge will probably want you both to stand up close to bench. If the abusive person tries to stand next to you, ask the judge to have the court officer stand between you.
  • You have the right to be safe in court.

If the person threatens you while are in court, tell the clerk or the “court officer” right away. The “court officer” is the uniformed officer in the courtroom.

How do I prepare for the 2nd hearing?

Being in court with a person who abused you can scary. If you can, bring someone with you for support: a friend, a family member, or an advocate.

Try to think of all the things that the abusive person might say about you.

Also think about the things they may say that are not true. You need to know what to expect.

At the hearing, make sure to keep your cool, no matter what they say. Do not talk directly to the defendant while you are in front of the judge. Speak to the judge.

If the defendant says something that is not true, tell the judge that they are not telling the truth. Do not interrupt the defendant when they are talking to the judge.

The judge will give you a chance to respond.  Explain why what the abusive person said is wrong. Tell the judge what really happened.

If you have any of the following things, 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 proof of abuse.

At the end of the hearing, the judge decides if they will extend your restraining order.

How long can the judge extend the restraining order?

At the 10-day hearing the judge can extend the restraining order for up to one year. The judge can also decide to extend the order for less than one year. If the judge extends the order, they automatically schedule an “extension hearing” for the date your order ends.

What can I do if the judge does not grant the order?

If the judge does not grant you a restraining order, talk to an advocate about what you can do to appeal the judge's decision. They can help you find a legal aid program

What happens at the 10-day hearing if the defendant did not get a copy of the order from the police?

If the police are not able to serve the defendant with a copy of the order before the date for the 10-day hearing, the judge will set a new date for the 10-day hearing.

The new date will probably be another 10 days later.

The judge will write on the ex-parte order that says the order is good until the new date.

What if the defendant got a copy of the order but does not show up for the second hearing?

If the defendant does not show up, the judge may ask you to explain the reasons you need the restraining order to be safe.

The judge can extend your order for up to one year. The judge can also decide to extend the order for less than a year. 

If the judge extends the order, they automatically schedule an “extension hearing” for the date your order ends.

Who to call for help

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