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Getting Your Restraining Order Extended When the Original Order Expires

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed November 2019

Your first restraining order can last only up to 1 year. If that order will expire and you still need a restraining order, you can ask the court to extend your order at your “extension hearing.”

The extension hearing date can take place up to 1 year after you are granted a restraining order.

Remember

You are the plaintiff and the person who abused you is the defendant.

1st hearing/ex-parte hearing

Your first hearing is called an “ex-parte hearing.” You go to court and the judge grants an order without notice to the defendant. So the abusive person is not present at the hearing. The ex-parte hearing takes place on the same day you file the application for the restraining order.

2nd hearing/10-day hearing or “hearing after notice”

Your next hearing happens after the abusive person is “served” with the ex-parte order. They now get the chance to come to court to answer your complaint. They can tell the judge why you do not need the order. The court holds this hearing no more than 10 business days after the ex-parte hearing. This is why the 2nd hearing is called the “10-day hearing.” The 2d hearing is also called the “hearing after notice.”

At the 10-day hearing if the judge decides you still need an order, they can keep the order in effect for up to 1 year and schedule an “extension hearing” on the same day the order expires.

How does the judge decide to grant an extension?

You must go to the extension hearing if you want the judge to extend your order. The judge will consider extending the restraining order if you still need it. You must show the judge that you still need the order because “there is a likelihood of further abuse.” 1

How does the judge decide if “there is a likelihood of further abuse”?

The judge considers:

  1. the reasons for the original restraining order, and
  2. if anything has happened that puts you at risk of further abuse.2

At the your extension hearing tell the judge why you got your original restraining order. Tell the judge what the defendant did and remind the judge to look at your original affidavit. The defendant is not allowed to challenge the reasons for your original order at the extension hearing.

Some examples of reasons why the judge should extend your order include:

  • The abusive person violated the 209A order.
  • There is an ongoing child custody or other court case that is likely to anger the abusive person.
  • The chances that you and the abusive person will run into each other during the course of a normal day in your life. Like around your neighborhood, at work, exchanging children for visits, or at your place of worship.

This is not a complete list. To get an extension, you must be prepared to tell the judge about all the reasons you are still at risk of further abuse if they do not extend the order.

Think about writing a new affidavit before the hearing to show why you need the order.

Can a judge grant an extension even if the abusive person followed the rules in the order?

Yes. The fact that abuse has not occurred during the order is not be enough reason to deny extending the order.

How long my restraining order be extended?

At the extension hearing the judge can:

  • Extend your order for any amount of time and give you another extension hearing later on, or
  • Make your order permanent.
  • Not extend the order and allow the order to expire at the end of the business day.

How can I get a permanent 209A restraining order?

Judges are often hesitant about making permanent restraining orders. You have to show why you need the order to be permanent.

A judge cannot decide to make the order permanent at the ex-parte hearing or at a 10-day hearing. A judge can decide to make the restraining order permanent at the first extension hearing.

If the judge does not make the restraining order permanent at the 1st extension hearing, you can ask again at every extension hearing that follows.

How can I find help getting my restraining order extended?

Talk to an advocate or a lawyer for more information about getting a permanent restraining order.

To talk to an advocate, contact SAFEPLAN. Call your local legal services office to see if you can get free legal help.

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.

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