Where to Pursue Your Restraining Order: District Court vs. Probate Court

In Massachusetts, parties can pursue a restraining order in several courts, and you should consult with an attorney to strategize about court selection.

If you file in district court, it’s possible the process may be efficient, but the district court has limited authority over custody matters. The district court does have the power to order child support, but the district court judges calculate child support far less often than the probate court judges. Furthermore, it can be confusing to have a district court judge adjudicate only part of your divorce—the restraining order and potentially child support—while a probate court judge is adjudicating the rest.

If you file in probate court, it is likely that the Probate Court who handles your restraining order will handle the rest of your matter. Generally speaking, a judge who handles both the restraining order and the divorce will have a fuller understanding of your matter and be able to make more informed rulings. It often makes sense to proceed with your restraining order petition in the probate court.

It is important to consult with an attorney about court selection and make sure you are proceeding with the court that makes the most sense for your case.