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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

If the abuser gets visitation, what limitations can be included in the abuse prevention order to protect me and my child?

If the judge gives the abuser visitation with your children as part of your abuse prevention order, the judge should make sure that your and your children’s well-being and safety are protected by doing one or more of the following:

  • ordering supervised exchange of the child, either with a third party or in a protected setting, such as a visitation center;
  • ordering supervised visitation with the child by an appropriate third party or at a visitation center;
  • ordering the abuser to pay the costs for supervised visitation at a visitation center;
  • ordering the abuser to attend and complete a batterers’ treatment program in order to get visitation;
  • ordering the abuser to not drink and to not have or use drugs during the visitation and for 24 hours before the visit;
  • prohibiting overnight visitation;
  • requiring the abuser to deposit money with the court (bond) as an incentive to ensure the safe return of the child;
  • ordering an investigation or appointing a guardian ad litem or attorney for the child; or
  • ordering any other condition that the judge believes is necessary.1

Note: Although many courts can issue abuse prevention orders, including superior, district, Boston municipal, and family and probate courts, if you are asking for visitation, supervised or otherwise, to be included in your order, only the probate and family court can order visitation in an abuse prevention order.2

1 ​M.G.L.A. 209A § 3
2 ​See Guide to Completing G.L. c. 209A Forms, available on the Massachusetts government website