ABUSE PREVENTION ORDER VACATED IN LOWELL DISTRICT COURT

In 2006 RG and KM began a dating relationship. They moved in together and then bought a home together. Eventually the relationship soured and one night in February 2010 they had a huge argument. The next day KM went to Lowell District Court and obtained an abuse prevention order against RG. At the full court hearing two weeks later the order was extended for one year. In February 2011 the order was extended for an additional year. In February 2012 RG decided he wanted to challenge the extension of the order. RG retained Attorney Robert Lewin. On the one year hearing date all the parties appeared in Court. At that time RG and KM were still involved in a civil lawsuit over the proceeds from the sale of the house. The Judge at the hearing expressed concern that the civil lawsuit could provide a flahpoint and a point of contact between the parties. It was anticipated that the civil lawsuit would be finished by June 2012. The Judge extended the abuse prevention order to a date in June 2012. On that date all the parties appeared again in court. The civil lawsuit was still not finished. The Judge again extended the order until December 4, 2012. On December 4, 2012 all the parties again appeared in Court. The civil lawsuit between the parties was completely finished. Attorney Lewin had prepared a lengthy memorandum of the facts and the law in the abuse prevention order case. He pointed out that the relationship had ended in February 2010 – 2 years and 10 months earlier and that there had been no contact between the parties since that time and no violations of the order. When a party seeks to extend an abuse prevention order the burden of proof is on that party to prove that at the time of extension hearing the party still has a reasonable fear of imminent serious physical harm. It is not enough to prove that at the time the order was originally granted the party had a reasonable fear of imminent serious physical harm. The party must prove that there is a continuing need for the order. There is no presumption in the law in favor of extending these orders. Attorney Lewin’s Memorandum of Law cited all the appropriate cases for the Judge. On December 4, 2012 all the parties appeared before the Judge in Lowell District Court. The Judge reviewed the Court papers and read Attorney Lewin’s Memorandum. The Judge turned to KM and asked her if she was seeking to extend the order for another year. To everyone’s surprise KM said “No, your honor.” Even KM had come to the realization that after 2 years and 10 months of absolutely no contact with RG that any fear she had would not be deemed reasonable. The order was vacated. Had RG not persisted in fighting the extensions of the order and had he not been willing to return to court on two additional occasions the order probably would have been made permanent. To win you have to be persistent and you have to be willing to fight for what is right.