Tuesday, April 29, 2014

209A Order Vacated by SJC

In Silva v. Carmel, SJC-11438, April 18, 2014, the court decided that an abuse prevention order pursuant to G.L. c. 209A could not be obtained by an intellectually disabled adult against a fellow resident of a residential program.

"Because we conclude that individuals who share a common diagnosis or status, rather than marriage, blood, or other relationships that are enumerated in G.L. c. 209A, § 1, and who live together in a State-licensed residential facility, do not qualify as "household members" within the meaning of G.L. c. 209A, § 1, we vacate the order against the defendant."

The defendant asserted "that residents in a State-governed facility are not eligible for the protections provided by G.L. c. 209A, because receiving services through a residential program run by a governmental agency does not constitute "residing together in the same household" for the purposes of the statute." The court agreed.

"Nonetheless, we conclude that the relationship between the defendant and the victim, in the circumstances here, is not the type of relationship contemplated by the statute."

"Here, however, outside of the fact that the two individuals lived in the same facility, there is no evidence that there was a socially interdependent relationship between the two," Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland explained. "The two individuals here are not family members, are not in a family-like relationship with each other, did not marry or have a child, and were not involved in a significant dating or engagement relationship."

For more information on domestic violence laws and procedures, see our Law About Domestic Violence.