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I need to change a temporary or final custody order right away because of domestic violence

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed February 2022

If you need to change a custody order immediately because of domestic violence, you can file a 209A Restraining Order.

Fill out the application for the 209A restraining order.

  • Ask the court to give you custody, on pages 1 and 2 of the complaint.
  • Write on the affidavit why you need to change the custody order to keep your children safe. Include:
    • what happened and why you need an order.
    • the things the abusive person said or did like, "He told me he would get his gun and shoot me. Start with the most recent incident.
    • information about injuries, if children were present or hurt, police involvement, medical treatment, other help you got, or destruction of property.

See Writing your 209A Affidavit

Where to file?

You can file a 209A in a Probate and Family Court, a District Court, or a Boston Municipal Court.


Some District Court and Boston Municipal Court judges and clerks may tell you to go to Probate and Family Court to get a 209A protective order when children are involved. The 209A Guidelines say District Court and BMC judges and clerks should not send you to another court.1 You have the right to get a 209A order from a District Court or Boston Municipal Court to protect your children.

Read about filing in a District Court or a Boston Municipal Court (BMC) if there already is a custody order from a Probate and Family Court.

Read about not being sent to the Probate and Family Court if your case involves children.

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