Posts Tagged ‘Restraining Orders’

It is common for the Courts to issue domestic relations restraining orders to protect parties in divorce and family law cases. Many attorneys and judges feel that they are often given out too easily in these types of situations. However, it is important to remember that the breakup of families is very stressful and emotional. This can often lead to physical violence. Every experienced family law attorney has a horror story to tell and the media is full of stories about people who have been harmed or even murdered in these situations. Therefore, judges tend to err on the side of caution when deciding on whether to issue a domestic relations restraining order.

The standard for obtaining a restraining order may differ slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But it usually involves some fear of imminent potential danger or harm to the party asking for the order. This party should be able to describe specific threats and/or past incidents of violence. Although the Courts are supposed to act in a gender neutral manner, it is much more common to see restraining orders issued against men than women. The actual restraining order itself usually bars or sets limits on contact between the parties and/or their children. If the defendant violates the restraining order, they are subject to criminal penalties and incarceration. The Courts take these violations very seriously and many people have been incarcerated for even minor violations.

If you have a real fear of potential physical harm being perpetrated on you by your spouse or domestic partner, it is very important that you petition the Court for a restraining order to protect you and/or your children. You should also develop a safety plan to protect yourself. The police will serve the restraining order. But they usually won’t station an officer at your residence. In extreme situations, you may need to hide or even relocate to avoid the abusive party.

Tips to avoid a restraining orderIt happens over and over again. The subject of divorce comes up, or a divorce case is filed. Emotions run high and, before you know it, the other spouse runs out and convinces a judge that they are in fear of “imminent physical harm” and gets an ex parte (without notice) restraining order. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of serious domestic violence in our society.

In many instances the only real threat involved is the fear of bad publicity to the Judge. From the standpoint of the Judge – if he has 1000 people asking for a restraining order and he turns them down and only 1 party goes “postal” the Judge’s picture will be on the front page of the papers and all over social media. There are many Judges who rarely turn down any request for a restraining order no matter how flimsy the basis!

The mere presence of a restraining order can prevent a person from working in certain fields (notably education and health care) and make visiting with your children much more difficult. And a vindictive spouse (or ex-spouse) can even use alleged violations to have you incarcerated.

There are a number of ways to prevent a restraining order from happening:

  • Avoid being alone with your spouse! If you must engage your spouse in conversations, do so in a public place and try to keep them calm. If your spouse shows signs of losing it, leave! When the police are called it is usually the man who is taken away.
  • If you can’t remain calm – don’t contact your spouse. If you with your spouse and you find yourself losing it – leave!
  • Never threaten your spouse or assault your spouse physically in any manner – this includes breaking things and throwing things.
  • Lastly, if your spouse does obtain a restraining order – strongly consider fighting the restraining order. An experienced attorney can review the facts of the situation and give you an opinion as to whether you have a chance of convincing the Court to drop the restraining order.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


Previously we looked at Facebook and Divorce, but there are many other means of connecting via high tech and the Internet today which should be considered as well. Sexting, tweeting, YouTube, Tumblr, and many other channels exist which an aggrieved spouse can exploit to hurt his or her ex or soon-to-be ex. For example, a spouse can post a defamatory video on YouTube, perhaps sharing secretly filmed clips of their partner or tirades where they launch into a litany of grievances, imagined or real. Even if these videos are flagged and pulled down by YouTube, the harm has already been done.

Twitter is an instantaneous means of sharing brief, potentially harmful comments about one’s spouse with whoever follows either the poster or a hashtag such as #divorce or #marriage or #myevilspouse (yes, that’s for real). Again, the harm is shared instantly with the world at large, and therefore can reach the spouse’s friends, family, or employment.

Sexting is another potentially hurtful venue. Sexting is defined as “the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs between mobile phones.” This is rampant amongst the younger generation, as 30% or more of people between 18 and 25 have exchanged naked photos. Once sexted, these photos can easily be uploaded to photo sharing sites such as Tumblr or online forums, and once this happens, it is impossible to remove the photos from the Internet as they may have been shared too many times on too many venues. Such photos can be used to inflict harm on a spouse, whether by being found by an employer doing an online search for that person, by children of the spouse who become distressed upon seeing the photos, or by any number of other people in the spouse’s life.

If you have sexted naked photos with your partner, or otherwise know of such sharing through other electronic means, you should discuss this with an experienced divorce attorney, who can assist you by filing an ex-parte motion to restrain the online distribution, posting, transferring by any means, or reproducing such videos or photos.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262