WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

View all
Laws current as of
December 14, 2023

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be “served,” or given papers that tell him/her about the hearing date and your temporary abuse prevention order if the judge gave you one. The first step for this to happen is that the clerk-magistrate will send the following documents to the appropriate law enforcement agency:

  • a certified copy of the temporary ex parte order;
  • the order of suspension of the abuser’s firearms license and order for surrender of firearms; and
  • a copy of the complaint and summons, which includes the return court date.1

Do not attempt to serve the papers on the abuser yourself.

When serving the abuser, the police are also supposed to do the following:

  • immediately take possession of all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, any license to carry firearms, and any firearms identification cards in the abuser’s control, ownership, or possession;2
  • fully inform the defendant of what is included in the abuse prevention order;
  • explain the possible penalties for violating the order; and
  • provide the defendant with informational resources, including, but not limited to, a list of certified batterer intervention programs, substance abuse counseling, alcohol abuse counseling and financial counseling programs in the area. The law enforcement agency shall promptly make its return of service to the court.1

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

1 M.G.L.A. 209A § 7
2 M.G.L.A. 209A § 3B