Most populous city in Tidewater has its own circuit court
Anomalies in city-county structure crop up across the United States. For example, in Texas incorporated cities will have some sort of Mayor-council-city manager government, while unincorporated burgs are run by the county judge. Kansas City, Missouri sprawls across parts of four counties and serves as one of two county seats in Jackson County (the other is the original county seat, Independence, MO). In some cases, a city is “independent,” that is, it belongs to no county–and that’s the norm in Virginia.
Independent cities the norm in Virginia
Arlington, VA is an exception, but as we see from www.pettitcompany.com, “The Commonwealth of Virginia is a little different than the rest of the states, in that they have independent cities. These cities have the same authority as counties. They all have their own court system, and with a few exceptions, their own record depositories (record rooms). There are 41 independent cities in Virginia, and 95 counties. Confusion occurs because some cities and counties are named the same. For instance, there is a Roanoke City and a Roanoke County, which are contiguous. There is also a Richmond City and a Richmond County, which are not contiguous, and in fact, are about 70 miles apart.”
More examples of candidates for confusion are listed, but the point is “it’s extremely important that you know the exact jurisdiction in which to file or search. Further confusion exists because of U.S. Postal addresses.”
Addressing domestic violence
Please see “Divorce in Virginia, Part 1” and “Divorce in Virginia, Part 2” for an overview of state law, grounds for divorce and the necessity of addressing domestic violence immediately if such is part of your family equation. Part 1 includes statewide listings for help with domestic violence; for local help with domestic violence, please contact any/all of the following:
- Virginia Beach Police Department Domestic Violence Unit;
- Samaritan House;
- Southside Woman;
- Assistance with Protective Orders.
Circuit court advises to consult attorney
Notice to Party Proceeding Pro se (Without an Attorney)
If you are representing yourself you must research the requirements for the content of the complaint, divorce decree,
and any other orders or pleadings that may be required, and draft and prepare them yourself. The court does not
provide any form pleadings or orders, and court staff cannot give you advice on these issues.
This manual only sets forth the procedural steps for having an uncontested divorce heard by the court. It does not set
forth the legal requirements for a divorce under Virginia law, nor is it intended to. You must determine these requirements for yourself.
Each party involved in a divorce matter is strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney so that the legal effects of the proceedings may be fully explained. While it is your right to proceed without an attorney, if you do so, you may forever, unknowingly waive your rights to custody or visitation, child or spousal support, equitable distribution of property, and other legal claims arising out of your marriage. The law clerks and the clerk’s office and judicial staff are not permitted to give legal advice.
The court’s contested divorce page basically repeats the warning to consult with an attorney, adding that “Effective October 20, 2010, a separate Parent Education Seminar Order is no longer required. The Divorce Pretrial Order has been revised to require that the parties, prior to the trial date, submit proof that they have attended the education seminar pursuant to § 20-103.”
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