Can I get my abuse prevention order from Massachusetts enforced in another state?
If you have a valid Massachusetts abuse prevention order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is a federal law, states that all valid restraining orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. See How do I know if my abuse prevention order is good under federal law? to find out if your order qualifies.
Each state must enforce out-of-state restraining orders in the same way it enforces its own orders, which means that if the abuser violates your out-of-state order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by “full faith and credit.”
How do I know if my abuse prevention order is good under federal law?
An abuse prevention order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:
- It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
- The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
- The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
- In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2
Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)