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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
October 24, 2018

How do I get my abuse prevention order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your abuse prevention order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid abuse prevention order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your abuse prevention order with you at all times.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my abuse prevention order enforced?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your abuse prevention order. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp.

In Massachusetts, a certified copy has a raised seal and the signature of one of the court clerks. If your copy is not a certified copy, call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask for a certified copy. You can find contact information for courthouses in Massachusetts on our MA Courthouse Locations page.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your abuse prevention order enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the pros and cons are for registering your order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, go to the Places that Help tab on the top of this page and choose the state you are moving to. See Finding a Lawyer or Advocates and Shelters for resources in your area.

I have a temporary (ex parte) order. Can it be enforced in another state?

An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my abuse prevention order is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)