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Misuse of Restraining Orders in Massachusetts Divorces

Restraining orders are an essential tool in providing some level of protection to victims of spousal abuse. Unfortunately, misuse of restraining orders in Massachusetts divorces is common and can have a devastating impact. Here’s a look at why people do so and why you should avoid this tactic in your divorce.

Why People Misuse Restraining Orders

A temporary restraining order requires no submission of evidence. A person merely needs to state that they “feel” threatened. It is issued without the accused being present. A more formal hearing is later scheduled, with the accused being informed, to extend it to a permanent restraining order. Only at this subsequent hearing does the accused have an opportunity to present evidence showing that the accusations are false.

Misuse of restraining orders in Massachusetts divorces is common because temporary restraining orders are so easy to obtain. It forces the accused out of the residence and can even prevent the accused from seeing his/her own children. Furthermore, without clear and convincing evidence of the contrary, judges will err on the side of caution and extend restraining orders to protect potential victims.

Why You Should Avoid this Tactic

Although it can be an effective tactic in a divorce, it’s one that you should really avoid. Here are several reasons why.

  1. It’s Morally Wrong
    No matter how you may attempt to justify it to yourself, falsely accusing your spouse of violence or abuse is morally wrong! There’s also karma to consider.
  2. It’s Permanent
    Restraining orders appear on your ex’s criminal record. He/she also gets listed in a Domestic Violence Registry. These are permanent and can have a devastating impact. You may want to hurt your spouse in your state of anger, but it could be something that you later regret,… and have to live with for the rest of your life.
  3. It Can Ruin Relationships
    If you’re using a restraining order to gain custody of children or to gain the support of friends and family, what will happen when they later find out that you lied? You can ruin those relationships and the support that you fought so hard to gain. Lies rarely stay hidden for long and you may have more to lose than gain in the long run. Additionally, if you truly care about your children and their well-being, then you will realize that having a healthy relationship with both parents will help them through the trauma of a divorce.
  4. You Can Get in Trouble
    Making false statements to obtain a restraining order is perjury! Although rare, this can result in legal prosecution.

More on Misuse of Restraining Orders in Massachusetts Divorces

Misuse of restraining orders in Massachusetts divorces is no small matter. If you are thinking of using this as leverage in your divorce, consider that there are better ways (legally and ethically) to achieve your goals. If you are being falsely accused, avoid stooping to the same level as your spouse. Instead, seek the assistance of a good Massachusetts divorce attorney. Remember that many people will be impacted by your actions, both in the short and long-term. Work to achieve a divorce that helps you maintain your moral compass and allows those you love (and who are most impacted by the divorce) to better cope with the difficult situation.

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Attorney John J. Martino offers a broad range of legal services in Eastern MA and Southern NH. As a highly dedicated and experienced professional, he handles cases under the following areas of practice:

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