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Protective orders in Massachusetts

People seeking protective orders against an abusive or potentially abusive household member or relative normally aim to receive a long-term order from the court. This type of order requires a court hearing so that the court can hear both sides of the story. The court requires the person filing the order to appear in court, but the other party does not have to appear for the court to issue the order. This type of order is in effect for up to a year, but the court may extend this time if it is still necessary.

The court may issue a temporary protective order when a person files for the long-term order without the abusive party present. This order is in effect until the court date, which is normally within 10 business days. The person filing for the order does not have to be the one that it will protect, but it must be a person who the local court will allow to do so.

If the courthouse is closed and a person is in immediate danger from the abuser, the police department may issue an emergency protective order. This type of order is only in effect until the courts close on the next day that it is open. The person receiving for this type of order must prove to the police that he or she is in immediate danger from the abuser.

Anybody facing the threat of domestic violence may want to seek a protective order from the court. An attorney could help with filing for the order and represent the party in the court hearing. An attorney could also advise clients on what actions to take when the abuser violates the order and what consequences the abuser would face for doing so.

Source: Women's Law, "What types of abuse prevention orders are there? How long do they last?", December 17, 2014

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