Should I Contest A Restraining Order In Massachusetts?

You open your mail, and there it is—an unexpected notice. A restraining order has been filed against you in Massachusetts. Should you contest this restraining order?

Restraining orders, also known as Abuse Prevention Orders, protect individuals in Massachusetts from abuse, threats, or harassment. However, restraining orders can have significant legal, personal, and professional implications. Let’s explore the considerations to help you decide whether you should contest a restraining order.


Understanding Restraining Orders in Massachusetts

Before deciding whether to contest a restraining order, it is important to understand its nature and consequences. In Massachusetts, restraining orders can forbid you from contacting the petitioner, require you to vacate a jointly occupied residence, and restrict visitation and custody rights over your children. Furthermore, it can negatively impact your current or future employment, particularly if your job mandates a clean record, and limit your rights to owning or possessing firearms.

Massachusetts generally recognizes two (2) primary types of restraining orders:

  • Abuse Prevention Orders (209A)
  • Harassment Prevention Orders (258E).

The eligibility criteria and the protective measures offered by each type of order vary significantly. Abuse Prevention Orders can be obtained by individuals who are currently in or were formerly in a close or personal relationship with each other. On the other hand, Harassment Prevention Orders do not require a personal relationship between the petitioner and the defendant.

Things to Consider Prior Contesting a Restraining Order

Before you decide whether to contest a restraining order, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Legal Grounds: Examine the basis of the restraining order. If the claims are unfounded or exaggerated, you might have a strong reason to contest them.
  2. Evidence: Consider the evidence you can present. Reliable evidence that contradicts the petitioner’s claims can be used in your favor.
  3. Implications: Reflect on the restraining order’s impact on your life. If the consequences are severe and unjustified, the order may be worth contesting.
  4. Legal Representation: The complexity of legal proceedings necessitates professional legal advice. An experienced attorney can handle the complexities of your case and advocate on your behalf.

With these considerations in mind, let’s move on to understand the process involved in contesting a restraining order.

The Process of Contesting a Restraining Order

Contesting a restraining order involves a legal process that starts with a hearing. Here is what to expect:

  • Hearing Notice: After a temporary restraining order has been issued, you will be served a temporary order and notice of a hearing date at which you can present your case, usually occurring within ten (10) business days.
  • Gathering Evidence: Collect any relevant evidence that supports your case, including text messages, emails, photos, videos, or witness statements.
  • Legal Representation: It is important to hire an attorney who specializes in restraining order cases to help prepare your defense and represent you at a court hearing.
  • Presenting Your Case: During the hearing, each party will have the opportunity to present their argument and any evidence in support of their argument. The judge will then make a determination as to whether a final restraining order should be issued. A final restraining order will include specific provisions regarding contact, proximity, and other restrictions.

Now, let’s explore the reasons why contesting a restraining order may be in your best interest.

Why You Might Choose to Contest a Restraining Order To…

  1. Preserve your Rights: Contesting a restraining order is vital to safeguarding your rights, particularly if it could potentially impact custody arrangements, employment status or housing.
  2. Rectify Misunderstandings: Occasionally, restraining orders stem from misunderstandings or unfounded accusations. Contesting the order can resolve misconceptions.
  3. Minimizing Unjust Consequences: If the restraining order’s terms are overly restrictive or unjust, contesting it can help mitigate unfair or disparate treatment, and ensure fair and equitable treatment.

Complexities in Restraining Order Matters

The laws governing restraining orders are complex, with the regulations often contingent upon the unique circumstances and details of each case. Markey Law Partners can provide you with guidance and accurate legal advice surrounding the following:

  • Eligibility criteria: Whether you meet the requirements to contest the restraining order based on the nature of the order (209A or 258E) and your personal relationship with the petitioner
  • Potential consequences: Thorough legal, personal, and professional ramifications of contesting or acquiescing to the restraining order
  • Evidence requirements: The types of evidence crucial to supporting your case and that effectively challenge the petitioner’s claims
  • Court procedures: Clarification of the legal procedures involved in contesting the order, including hearings, evidence presentation, and potential case outcomes

Facing a Restraining Order in Massachusetts? Don’t Do It Alone.

Deciding whether to challenge a restraining order is a complex and deeply personal decision. The potential consequences on your life are significant, underscoring the importance of hiring experienced legal counsel.

At Markey Law Partners, our experienced Massachusetts restraining order attorneys specialize in handling highly sensitive and complex cases in Massachusetts. Recognizing the emotional and logistical hurdles at hand, we are committed to securing you the best possible outcome.

Contact Markey Law Partners to schedule a consultation today. Our dedicated team will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring your rights are zealously defended. We are here for you.

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