Somehow a post on domestic violence protection doesn’t seem in the true spirit of Christmas, but the sorry truth is that this is a problem which exacerbates during the holidays with their overlay of extra family stress and alcohol fueled parties.
Massachusetts has several laws designed to deal with these circumstances. In addition to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A, which was discussed in my last post, there are probate statutes, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 Sections 34B,C and D. These are useful for psychological battering and generally unhealthy, emotional circumstances as well. It is important to note that the statutes and the Court do recognize the burden parental violence puts on children and attempts to protect them from it.
Chapter 209A defines the standard as “attempting to cause or causing physical harm, placing another in fear of imminent, serious, physical harm.” The parties need to be family or household members and the order can remove a party from the home without prior notice, although s/he will later have his/her day in court. This is a very serious statute, which is so helpful because it includes provisions for protection on nights and weekends by ensuring there is always a Judge available. All you need to do is call 911.
There is also Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 section 18, a provision which allows judges to deal with certain behaviors which, while harassing and annoying, don’t meet the 209A standard for violence or fear of violence. This statute can also be used for violence, in which case the procedural requirements of chapter 209A should be observed.
I hope you and yours are enjoying a holiday season free from violence. If you are not, the best gift you can give your children and yourself is a restraining order and a safe haven.