Robert Withrow
27 May

Divorce proceedings are already complex and emotionally challenging, but when issues of safety arise, such as domestic violence or threats of violence, the situation quickly becomes even more daunting. Understanding how restraining orders interact with divorce is crucial for individuals seeking both legal protection from their partner as well as the dissolution of their marriage. Let's delve into the intricacies of this intersection and provide clarity on navigating these legal waters.

1. The Basics of Restraining Orders

A restraining order, often referred to as a protective order, is a legal document issued by a court to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats by another person. In Massachusetts, there are different types of restraining orders, including:

  1. 209A Restraining Orders: These are commonly associated with domestic violence situations, where one party seeks protection from abuse by a family or household member.
  2. 258E Harassment Prevention Orders: These orders are sought by individuals who are being harassed by someone who is not a family or household member.

These can be obtained through either the District or Probate Court in the county where the parties reside. The individual seeking a restraining order must file an Affidavit with the Court that outlines their reasons for obtaining a restraining order.  Once issued, restraining orders can include provisions such as prohibiting contact, staying away from certain locations, and surrendering firearms.

2. Restraining Orders and Divorce
When a marriage is ending and there are concerns about safety or domestic violence, obtaining a restraining order may be necessary to ensure the protection of one or both parties involved. The existence of a restraining order can change the divorce process in several ways:

  1. Child Custody and Visitation: If children are involved, the court will consider the presence of a restraining order when determining custody and visitation arrangements.  The court may impose restrictions or supervised visitation if necessary to ensure the protection of the children.  Just because one of the parents has a restraining order against the other does not mean that the restraining order automatically applies to the children as well.
  2. Property Division: Restraining orders can also affect property division in divorce proceedings. For example, if one party is ordered to stay away from the marital home, temporary arrangements may need to be made regarding occupancy and access to personal belongings.

3. Seeking Legal Guidance
Navigating the intersection of restraining orders and divorce requires careful consideration of legal rights, responsibilities, and implications. It's crucial for individuals facing these situations to seek guidance from experienced family law attorneys who can provide tailored advice and representation.

If you or someone you know is contemplating how obtaining a restraining order could impact their divorce, seeking legal assistance is paramount. Please contact us at or give us a call at (781) 381-5287 to consult with a family law attorney. By working with our team of knowledgeable professionals, you can protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome during this challenging time.