Thursday, November 01, 2012

Forms and Procedures for Protecting Pets in Abuse and Harassment Cases

The Trial Court has released a memo on new MGL c.209A, s.11, added by St.2012, c.193, effective October 31, 2012. The law "provides that in certain circumstances, a court may order 'possession, care, and control of any domesticated animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household to the plaintiff or petitioner.'  The court may also 'order the defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of such animal.'"

It is important to note that, although the new law is part of c.209A, it applies to proceedings under several statutes:  "Whenever the court issues a temporary or permanent vacate, stay away, restraining or no contact order or a judgment under section 18, 34B or 34C of chapter 208, or under section 32 of chapter 209, or under section 3, 4 or 5 of [c.209A], or under section 15 or 20 of chapter 209C, or under section 3 to 7, inclusive, of chapter 258E or a temporary restraining order or preliminary or permanent injunction relative to a domestic relations, child custody, domestic abuse or abuse prevention proceeding."

The memo from the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator summarizes the law, explains procedures and includes two forms: a petition and an order.