Step 5: The hearing
A judge will generally set the hearing date within 10 business days of when you first filed your complaint.1
You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If the abuser has received notice of the hearing, but does not show up, the judge can continue with the hearing and grant you an order that lasts for up to one year.2 If the abuser was not able to be served, the judge may order a new hearing date and extend your temporary restraining order.
Although you do not need a lawyer, it is often helpful to have one, especially if the abuser is going to object to the order being issued or if the abuser has a lawyer. Go to our MA Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a “continuance” to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. Even if you cannot find an attorney to represent you, you may want to try to talk to an attorney to get advice as to what types of evidence you can bring to court and other ways to represent yourself. You can also go to our Preparing Your Case page for more information when representing yourself.
1 M.G.L.A. 209A § 4
2 M.G.L.A. 209A § 3