Getting preliminary protective orders—when time is crucial

People who are suffering abuse from people in their homes or lives understandably do not have the luxury of waiting to litigate their rights during bankers’ hours. They frequently need relief now—to keep possession of their homes, their children, their pets, even their ability to keep utilities hooked up and running in a jointly owned home.

It is not unusual in emotional and contested cases where both parties are running to the courthouse that a court might rule against the abused party and refuse to issue the initial 15-day preliminary protective order. Ordinarily, then, what is the victim’s recourse? Appeal from the district court to the circuit court? Or must the victim wait until the district court rules on the petition for a permanent protective order?

Thanks to a recent ruling by the Court of Appeals of Virginia, we now have an answer: in Jacobs v. Wilcoxson (2020) (, the Court ruled that either party may appeal the ruling granting or refusing the preliminary order just the same as the permanent order. You need not wait weeks or even months for a final decision on the permanent order.

Protective order matters are no laughing matter, as they can turn a person’s life upside down with the broad powers judges have to regulate your life if someone is abusing you or if someone is using the protective order process against you. If you are faced with a protective order proceeding, and you are in the Richmond, Henrico, Hanover or Chesterfield area, call the attorneys at Winslow & McCurry for a consultation at 804-423-1382 and we can help!​