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123A, and reasoning “[i]f the Legislature had intended to restrict ‘likely’ to a usage less broad than its commonly understood meaning, the Legislature would have done so”). E.2d 1141 (2000) (declining to imply limiting factors to plain statutory language of G. The judge in this case ignored these factors and instead improperly relied upon judicially constructed factors, including “the fact that a criminal matter [sic ] has issued,” and “the age of the alleged victim.” According to the judge, the determination was based “primarily” on the fact that a criminal case was pending. While judicial discretion and flexibility are appropriate in applying the statutory definition of “substantive dating relationship,” they do not relieve a court of its obligation to apply the legislative criteria.

This court has had only one prior opportunity to consider the meaning of “substantive dating relationship” within G.

Had the Legislature intended to further limit the scope of “substantive dating or engagement relationship,” it would have included any such limitation in the text of the statute.

The judicial guidelines on abuse prevention thus properly instruct courts to “give broad meaning to the term ‘substantive dating relationship’ to assure that the protective purposes of the statute are achieved.” Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings § commentary (Dec. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the parties were engaged in a “substantive dating relationship” within the meaning of G.

Inker, Family Law and Practice § 57.5 (2d ed.1996). The Legislature did not intend the statute to apply to acquaintance or stranger violence, nor did it intend to cover the myriad of relationships that exist or even to all those which might be considered “datingrelationships. Such a shift of focus can weaken the plaintiff's resolve to seek protection ․”).

However, the Legislature has consistently broadened the definition of “family or household member,” and consequently expanded the scope of G.

In 1978, the statute defined “[f]amily or household member” as a “household member, a spouse, former spouse or their minor children or blood relative.” St.1978, c. In 1986, the definition of “family or household member” was expanded to include a “former household member” and a “person who, though unrelated by blood or marriage, is a parent of the plaintiff's minor child.” St.1986, c. In 1990, the Legislature once again amended the definition of “family or household member” to its present form.

He was suspended from high school as a result of the arrest. The defendant further asks this court to clarify the meaning of “substantive dating relationship” in G. We believe that the Legislature drafted the statute with purposeful flexibility in its definitions, and we acknowledge that intent by declining the invitation to add elements to the Legislature's definition. 209A, § 1 (e ) (1)-(4), while keeping in mind the statute's protective purpose.

209A abuse prevention order on the bases that (1) the plaintiff failed to meet her burden of establishing the existence of a “substantive dating or engagement relationship” as required by G. After reviewing the parties' briefs and hearing oral argument, this court issued an order vacating the abuse prevention order. Shortly after the alleged incident, the plaintiff filed a complaint and supporting affidavit on behalf of her daughter and obtained an ex parte abuse prevention order against the defendant pursuant to G. One day after an ex parte emergency temporary abuse prevention order was issued, see G. The defendant was arraigned on these charges and subsequently released on bail. The defendant maintains that the plaintiff failed to show the existence of a “substantive dating relationship” between him and the plaintiff's daughter, and that, consequently, the abuse prevention order against him was improperly issued and extended. We need not add to this language by interpretation.


A different District Court judge denied the defendant's motion to modify, and the defendant once again timely appealed. We first consider whether the plaintiff's daughter and the defendant were engaged in a “substantive dating relationship” as defined in G.

In Turner, we recognized the changing nature of the concept of “family,” as well as the Legislature's clear intent to extend protections to victims who experience violence beyond the context of the traditional “family.” See id.

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