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Getting Your Restraining Order Extended

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created September 2019

This article has information about what you need to do to get your abuse prevention order (restraining order) extended at an “extension hearing”. “Extension hearing” refers to the third hearing in a Chapter 209A Abuse Prevention Order case.

The first hearing is the initial hearing where the defendant has not received notice. You have gone to court and the judge has granted an order without notice to the abusive person.

The second hearing is the hearing where you can ask the court to keep the abuse prevention order in place, after notice has been given to the abusive person that there is an order in effect and that he may appear in court to contest it. The “order after notice” hearing takes place no more than 10 court business days after the initial order. If the court keeps the initial order in place, with or without modifications, the order is in place for a set period of time, not to exceed one year.

A third hearing is prescheduled for the day and time that the “order after notice” is set to expire. That hearing is an “extension hearing” or “renewal hearing.”

Can the judge grant a permanent order at an extension hearing?

Yes. An order after a “hearing with notice” cannot be longer than one year. A 209A order entered at an extension hearing can be for a further set period of time, or it can be permanent.

How does the court decide whether to grant an extension?

If you appear at the extension hearing, the court decides whether to extend the 209A order for such time as is “reasonably necessary to protect” you from the likelihood of further abuse. You must show the judge that there is a continued need for the order.

How does the judge decide whether there is a likelihood of further abuse?

You have to show that an extension is reasonably necessary to protect you from further abuse, given all the particular circumstances involved in your relationship with the abuser.

The judge must consider the basis for the initial order in evaluating the risk of future abuse. Therefore, at an extension hearing it is critical to remind the judge of the basis for the original order: tell the judge what the abuser did. The abusive person is not permitted to challenge the basis for your original order at an extension hearing.

Are there other factors, besides the basis for the original order, that the judge should consider in deciding whether to grant an extension?

Yes. Some examples are:

  • the abusive person's violations of the 209A order
  • ongoing child custody or other court cases that cause or are likely to cause antagonism to continue
  • how you and the abuser appear in court; that is, your demeanor
  • the likelihood that you and the abusive person will encounter each other in the course of your daily activities, such as in your neighborhood, at work, at a place of worship

This is not the complete list of factors. There is no complete list. In order to get an extension, you should be prepared to tell the judge about all factors that you think will show them that you are at risk of further abuse if the order is not extended.

Can I get an extension even if there has not been an incident of abuse while the order has been in effect?

Yes. The law says very clearly that “the fact that abuse has not occurred during the pendency of an order shall not, in itself, constitute sufficient ground for denying or failing to extend the order…”

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