May 2010 Newsletter

Teri Sica 



On May 9, 2010, psychotherapist, Teri Sica on her weekly show, Authenticity and Commitment, interviewed Attorney Susan Castleton Ryan.  If you missed the original broadcast, you can still hear it by going to, and clicking on Teri Sica's Sunday listing, or by clicking here.  The Scituate Mariner reviewed the show stating, "Castleton Ryan bears her soul". 


Thanks to the many clients, friends, and newsletter readers who listened, and sent warm and supportive comments.   Many thanks to Teri Sica for inviting me as her guest.  It was a great time!



Pursuant to M.G.L. Ch. 209A, abuse prevention orders may be obtained when an individual is suffering from abuse or has suffered from abuse.  The abuse may be from a family or household member attempting to cause or causing physical harm, or placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.


Family or household members are those who are or were married to one another, or who are residing together in the same household, or are or were related by blood or marriage, or have a child in common, or they are or have been in a substantive dating relationship.


If there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, an individual may obtain an ex parte order, that is an order from the court without notice to the other party.  In order to obtain such an order, an individual must go to the court and complete the application for a restraining order, including but not limited to an Affidavit outlining the abuse that he or she has suffered, the types of abuse, and when such abuse occurred.  After an ex parte hearing, a judge will either issue the restraining order, and/or deny the order.  If the judge enters an abuse prevention order, the order may be for a limited period of time, to allow the other party, the Defendant, with notice and opportunity to be heard in court on the merits of the complaint.  The court will likely establish a return date within a week to ten days, with a copy of the order to be served on the Defendant by the appropriate police department.  The restraining order may provide a variety of relief, including orders to not contact the Plaintiff, not abuse the Plaintiff, to remain away from the Plaintiff's residence and/or to remain away from the Plaintiff's workplace.  The order may also award temporary custody of minor children to the Plaintiff, and order the Defendant to pay temporary support for the Plaintiff and child(ren).  It is likely that the restraining order will also contain language ordering the Defendant to surrender any and all firearms, gun licenses, and FID cards in his or her possession.


An individual may always obtain a restraining order/abuse prevention order from the courts when the court is in session.  However, it is important to know that such abuse prevention orders may also be obtained after hours, on weekends, and on holidays through the police department.  Therefore, if an individual feels the need for an emergency ex party order during times when the court is not open, the police department is able to obtain a restraining order granted by a judge on call.  In the event that an individual obtains a restraining order at night or on the weekend from the on call or duty judge, it is likely that he or she will be required to appear in court on the next date that the court is open.


Divorce and separate support matters are routinely heard in the Probate Court.  These matters are often contentious and highly litigated.  Sometimes, individuals need to have some protection from the other party, but the facts do not qualify for an abuse prevention order.  It may be that a Plaintiff feels that his or her health, safety, or welfare, as well as the health, safety, welfare of the minor children are in danger.  If that is the case, and there is a divorce or separate support action pending in the Probate Court, an individual may request an order that the other party vacate the marital home.  The order to vacate may also be obtained ex parte, without notice to the other party, if the court finds, after a hearing, that the Plaintiff would be endangered or substantially impaired by a failure to enter an order to vacate.  While an abuse prevention order may be entered for any period of time, such as a month, three months, six months, or a year, an order to vacate a marital home may be entered for a maximum of ninety (90) days.  It may be renewed after that period of time.  The Defendant will receive notice of the motion to vacate and will have the opportunity to contest the continuation of the temporary order.  In the event that a Defendant fails to comply with either the abuse prevention order or the order to vacate the marital home, such actions may be determined to be a criminal violation.


M.G.L. Ch. 258E is a recently enacted statute allowing a complaint to prevent harassment.  These orders are available in the district court, in the juvenile court (if both parties are under the age of seventeen (17)), and in the Superior Court.  An individual who is suffering harassment, may file a complaint for protection from harassment, and an affidavit with the court, outlining the harassment that he or she has experienced.  Harassment is defined as:  three or more acts, each aimed at a specific person, and each act willful and malicious, done with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or property damage, and that each act did in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or property damage; or one act that "by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations"; or one act that constitutes criminal stalking, drugging for sexual intercourse, indecent assault and battery, or such other acts as listed within the status.


The Harassment Prevention Order provides relief to those ineligible for a 209A restraining order.  Individuals now are able to obtain the protection they need by attaining such an order, a restraining order, or a motion to vacate.


The Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, P.C., Receives a 2009 Constant Contact All-Star AwardAll Star

The Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, P.C., has received a 2009 All-Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc., a leading provider of email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools for small organizations.  The office was selected for meeting Constant Contact's best-practice standards for the use of Email Marketing throughout 2009.

Issue: 16

scales of justice

In This Issue
WATD May 9, 2010 Broadcast
Abuse Prevention Orders, Harassment Prevention Orders, and Orders to Vacate the Marital Home
The Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, P.C., Receives a 2009 Constant Contact All-Star Award


Melaney Hodge, a second year law student at New England School of Law in Boston, has joined us at the office.  Melaney, who is from Reading, will be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week throughout the summer months. She will be accompanying me to court on numerous cases, and will be observing Family and Probate Court proceedings as well.


We are delighted to welcome Melaney to our team.  Please feel free to stop by and meet her during the week.

In our May 2009 issue, we had urged all of our readers to check their driver's license as the Registry of Motor Vehicles would no longer be mailing reminders to drivers when their is up for renewal.  Since then, the Registry of Motor Vehicles has partnered with an outside firm to deliver automatic reminders by email, phone, or text message.  To sign up for this free service, please visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles' website at or click here .
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If anyone has a topic that would be of general interest, please do not hesitate to contact the office and let us know what items would be of general interest to the readers of this newsletter.
Susan C. Ryan, Esq.
Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, PC
(781) 982-8850

This newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date with changes in the law.  For help with these or any other legal issues, please call our firm today.
The information in this newsletter is intended solely for your information .  It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.