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

Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

View all
December 14, 2023

When I apply for the order, can I keep my address confidential?

Your home address and work address will appear on the order unless you specifically ask that this information is kept confidential.1 Be sure to tell the clerk that you want this information confidential when filling out the forms.

1 M.G.L.A. 258E § 10

How much does it cost?

There is no fee to file a petition for a harassment prevention order or to get certified copies of the order.1

1 M.G.L.A. 258E § 3(c)

Can I change or extend my harassment prevention order?

Changing the order
Either you or the harasser can file a motion to change (modify) the order at any time and the court will set a hearing date. Either the person who files the motion or the court will serve notice on the other party. At the hearing, both sides can argue their case and tell the judge why the order should or should not be changed.1

Extending the order
There are two ways you can ask the court to extend the order:

  1. When you get your final order, it should list a date and time when the order expires and when you can go back to court to ask for an extension. You can go to court on that date and ask the judge to extend the order for a specific time period or make it permanent. If it expires on a date the court is closed, you should go to court the next day that the court is open.2 The harasser might come to court on the expiration date too.
  2. Instead of showing up in court on the expiration date, you can file a motion in court before the order expires, asking for an extension. Usually, after someone files a motion, the court notifies the other party and sets a date for a hearing. At the hearing, both sides can argue their case as to why the order should or should not be extended.

You can still ask for an extension of your final order even if there have not been any new incidents of harassment since the first order was issued.2

1 M.G.L.A. 258E § 3(e)
2 M.G.L.A. 258E § 3(d)

What happens if an abuser violates a harassment prevention order?

You can call 911 to report a violation to the police if the harasser violates the harassment prevention order. Each harassment prevention order issued must contain the following statement “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.” Any violation of a harassment prevention order can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, by imprisonment for up to 2 ½ years, or both.

You can also file a contempt petition in the civil court that issued the order. The judge can hold the harasser in “civil contempt” and punish the harasser.1

1 M.G.L.A. 258E § 9