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Going to court

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed February 2020


If you need to take the person who abused you to court, you will file your complaint in

  • a Boston Municipal Court (BMC),
  • a District Court, or 
  • a Probate and Family Court.

If the person who abused you takes you to court, you will go to one of these courts also.

You can get a 209A restraining order at the District Court near where you live or the Probate and Family Court in your county.

If you live in Boston, you can go to the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) near where you live. You can ask for a 209A restraining order from a District Court, BMC, or Probate and Family Court.

When you file for a restraining order, you decide where you will file. See Where can I get a 209A restraining order?

The Probate and Family Court is a court where a judge decides family matters like:

  • divorce,
  • separate support,
  • paternity,
  • child support,
  • custody,
  • parenting time and visitation, and
  • 209A protective orders.  

You can also file other kinds of cases in Probate and Family Court, like adoption, guardianship, and name change cases.

If you have to go to court, read on so you can get ready and make court easier to deal with.

Who to call for help

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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