Circuit Court Local Procedures - Civil

Circuit Court of Alexandria local procedures for attorneys and pro se litigants - civil cases.

Page updated on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:03 AM


Americans with Disabilities Act

The Court recognizes that there are persons with special needs who use the Court. Any person needing special accommodation should contact the Court Administrator at 703.746.4123.


Continuances 

Continuances are granted only by permission of a Judge upon good cause. A request for a continuance may be heard on a Motions Day or by a conference call at 8:45 a.m. Conference calls are scheduled by appointment with Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123). Continuances are not granted because discovery has not been completed.


Copies

In all cases where a certified copy of an order or other document is desired, the attorney or party should furnish to the Clerk's Office self-addressed, stamped return envelopes for all counsel and pro se parties.


Divorce Cases


Equitable Distribution Cases

In divorce cases involving equitable distribution, child support and/or spousal support, counsel for the parties must meet at least ten (10) days before trial and prepare in writing for submission to the Court no later than five (5) days before trial agreed factors under Va. Code §§20-107.1, 107.3(E), 108.1(B) and computations of guideline support under Va. Code §§20-107.2 and 108.2. If the parties cannot agree, each should submit his/her own proposed factors. 

Ore Tenus (Uncontested) Divorce Hearings

  • Ore Tenus hearings are heard by the Court at 9 a.m. 
  • Plaintiff must file the proposed Final Decree, the Property Settlement Agreement (if any), proof of service and notice, VS-4 form, privacy addendum, and the parenting seminar certificate (see below) with the Clerk’s office prior to scheduling the hearing date.
  • The Plaintiff's attorney or pro se plaintiff should call Judges' Chambers (703.746.4123) to schedule a hearing. 
  • Ore Tenus hearings are not scheduled on Motions Days, Commonwealth Days, or Traffic/Misdemeanor Appeals Days.


Divorce Hearings by Deposition or Affidavit 

Uncontested divorces may also proceed by deposition or affidavit pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-106. It may take four to six weeks for review and entry of the Final Decree. 

Service and Notice by Posting in Affidavit and Deposition Divorces:  If a plaintiff effects service of process by posting under Virginia Code § 8.01-296(2)(b), plaintiff should serve notice that the proceeding is pending in the court, that affidavits or depositions have been filed or will be filed on a specific date, and that upon the expiration of 10 days after the giving of the notice and the expiration of the statutory period within which to respond, a Final Decree may be entered. 


Mediation

Mediation is recommended in all disputed custody cases.  Uncontested divorce matters should be set on the Ore Tenus Docket. 


Parenting Seminar

  • The Plaintiff is required to complete a Parenting Seminar in all divorce cases where the parties have minor children and seek a ruling as to custody. This includes uncontested cases in which the parties have reached an agreement as to custody and ask the Court to incorporate their written agreement into the Final Decree of Divorce. The parenting seminar is not required in uncontested divorce cases where custody has already been determined by a separate court order, nor is it required in cases where the parties have minor children but the Final Decree does not make a ruling as to custody. 
  • A list of parenting seminars is available on the Supreme Court of Virginia’s website at  http://www.courts.state.va.us/courtadmin/aoc/djs/programs/parented/circuit_providers.html


Pendente Lite Support Hearings

In order to expedite the support hearing, the parties to a contested hearing should:

    1.    Prepare and sign financial statements indicating the financial needs and incomes of the parties;
    2.    Review the child support guidelines contained in Va. Code §20-108.2 and determine the appropriate amount suggested therein; and
    3.    Make a reasonable attempt to resolve the matter between themselves.


Emergency Hearings  

Emergency hearings may be scheduled by contacting a Judicial Law Clerk in Judges' Chambers at 703.746.4123.


Endorsement of Orders and Decrees

  • Attorneys' and pro se litigant names, addresses and telephone numbers must appear on all pleadings and orders.
  • Attorneys for both sides must endorse all orders and decrees.
  • All judgment orders shall specifically name the defendant(s) upon which the judgment is granted in the last paragraph of the order.

Filing Documents  

  • The Clerk's Office scans all documents that are submitted to the office for filing.
  • When printing forms from www.courts.state.va.us, make sure that you use the “Print for Submission to Court” button at the top of the form, rather than using the print feature of your web browser.
  • The Clerk’s Office will not accept any document where typing is over a grayed background, due to the inability to read the document after scanning.
  • When submitting exhibits for filing, put the exhibit number on the first page of the exhibit - do not use pages with tabs.  
  • For more information, contact the Circuit Court Clerk's Office at 703.746.4044.

Inclement Weather Policy  

The Circuit Court will be closed when the City Government (not City schools) is closed or when the City Government is two (2) or more hours late in opening due to inclement weather.


Motions in Limine

Motions in limine should be heard prior to trial on Motions Day or on the day of trial if less than 5 minutes.


Motions Day - Civil

  • Civil Motions Days are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 10:00 A.M., except for May.  Please check with the Clerk’s Office to determine the change for the May schedule.
  • Motions are limited to thirty (30) minutes per case. 
    • In cases requiring a longer time, counsel should call the Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123) to schedule a hearing at 2 p.m. on Motions Day and also file a notice with the Clerk of Court. All parties must agree to have their case heard at a 2 p.m. hearing.
  • Any party to a civil action who wishes to have a motion heard must notify the Clerk of Court by praecipe or notice before 5 p.m. on the Wednesday preceding the Motions Day. The party setting a case for Motions Day must give at least seven (7) days notice to all counsel of record and pro se parties. This means that counsel must take steps to insure that opposing counsel actually receives the motion no later than the Wednesday preceding Motions Day.
  • All responses should be filed no later than the Monday preceding the Motions Day.
  • If memoranda or briefs are filed, notice and filing times shall be in compliance with Rule 4:15 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Original documents should be filed with the Clerk's Office (Room 307); courtesy copies should be delivered to Judges’ Chambers and clearly marked “copy.”
  • Authorities cited from foreign jurisdictions must be attached to any motion.
  • If counsel wishes to remove the case from the Motions Day Docket by agreement with other counsel, the moving party must call the Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123) as early as possible so that the Judge will not unnecessarily review the motion.
  • If a motion is continued from one Motions Day to another by agreement of counsel or by the judge in open court or by conference call, a new praecipe or notice must be filed with the Clerk’s Office.
  • Orders reflecting the Court’s rulings should be presented promptly and should reflect the name of the presiding Judge.

For the following types of motions, counsel should take note:

  1. Disputes over the language of a proposed decree or order. Counsel shall confer and attempt to reach an agreement on the wording of the decree or order. Failing such agreement, on or before a date to be agreed upon between counsel but no later than 15 days after the date of the hearing at which the ruling was made, each counsel shall file with the Clerk his respective proposed decree or order and a concise written argument in support of his position. The order or decree should reflect the name of the appropriate judge. Both proposed orders or decrees shall be signed by both counsel of record, preserving objections as necessary and appropriate. The Court will enter the order it deems appropriate, mark the other order refused, and the Clerk shall send copies of the order entered to all counsel of record.
  2. All routine discovery disputes including, but not limited to, motions to compel. Counsel shall confer and attempt to settle such disputes in accordance with the Rules of Court.
  3. Motions to amend pleadings. Counsel seeking leave to amend any pleading shall provide a copy of the proposed amendment to opposing counsel and the Court. Counsel should bear in mind that Virginia law requires such amendments to be liberally granted in the interest of justice.

Notice to Pro se Litigants

For pro se litigants who schedule contested or equitable distribution divorces (including matters relating to child/spousal support and visitation/custody), please be advised that:

  1. You must know the law relating to your issues and you will be expected to adhere to the Rules of Evidence and Rules of Court.
  2. If you have a witness or witnesses that you want to have testify on your behalf, unless they are willing to come to court voluntarily, you must serve them with a lawful subpoena. 
  3. You must have all the proper pleadings prepared and filed no later than one week before the trial date.
  4. You must know how to proceed with presenting your case, including testifying, examination of witnesses and introduction of exhibits (documents, photographs or other tangible objects) as the Court will not be able help you with the case at trial.
  5. The Court, in its discretion, may dismiss your case if you do not the follow the above procedures.

You are strongly advised to obtain an attorney to represent you. The Court and its employees cannot give you legal advice on how to proceed; if you need such advice, then you must hire an attorney. 



Payment of Funds Into Court

  • All funds paid into the court will be deposited in the clerk’s account, which is non-interest bearing.
  • If counsel or parties desire funds to be deposited into an interest-bearing account, they may do so by order of the court.
    • The court order should direct that the funds be paid directly to the General Receiver of the court (not the clerk) who shall deposit the funds in an interest bearing account until further order of the court.
    • The General Receiver will not accept any funds until he has received a copy of the court’s order.

Pretrial Conferences

  • The Court requires a pretrial conference in all cases scheduled for three (3) days or more, and in all equitable distribution cases. The pretrial conference will be held approximately one month before trial at 9 a.m. 
  • In addition, any party in any case may ask for and receive a pretrial conference. Attorneys or parties must telephone Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123) to schedule the conference.

Setting Civil Trial Dates

Counsel or pro se litigants may choose one of the following:


     1.  Contact Circuit Court Judges' Chambers (703.746.4123).  It is not necessary to attend Term Day or Status Conference in order to obtain a trial date. Attorneys are encouraged to set trial dates by telephoning the Judges’ Chambers at 703.746.4123. All cases should be set in this fashion, except those involving a good faith dispute over whether or when a trial date should be set. Counsel must confirm by filling out, signing, and returning a Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order for entry by the Court.


     2.   Schedule for Term Day.  There are six (6) terms each year for the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria. The Term Days are the second Monday in January, March, May, July, September and November at 9 a.m. Should a Term Day fall on a holiday, it will be held the next day Court is open.  Counsel may schedule a case for Term Day by filing a Praecipes for Term Day with the Clerk of the Court no later than 5 p.m. the Wednesday preceding the Term Day.


     3.   Schedule for Motions Day.   If any party wishes to schedule a motion to set a trial date, notify the Clerk of Court by praecipe or notice before 5 p.m. on the Wednesday preceding the Motions Day. The party setting a case for Motions Day must give at least seven (7) days notice to all counsel of record and parties (if pro se). 


A Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order is required for all cases and shall be in the form prescribed by Rule 1:18 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia and shall be entered at the time the case is set for trial. 


Status Conferences 

  • Status Conferences are held on the second Monday of every month at 9 a.m. If both sides fail to appear, the Court may enter an Order of Dismissal, dismissing the case from the active case docket.
  • Counsel or pro se litigants may call Judges Chambers prior to the Status Conference to schedule the trial date or discuss service of process.
  • The Court will schedule a case for Status Conference:
    • Three months after a law case has been filed, a Status Conference is scheduled if service of process has not been effected.
    • Four months after a civil action has been filed, a Status Conference is scheduled for the purpose of choosing a trial date, if not already set. 
    • General District Court and Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court civil appeals cases will be noticed for a Status Conference for the purpose of setting a trial date
  • At the status conference, when your case is called, look at the available trial dates, which are posted in the courtroom, and advise the Court on:
        1. The date or dates you are choosing
        2. The number of days anticipated for trial
        3. Whether the trial is to be a jury trial
        4. The nature of each case
  • Attorneys setting cases for other attorneys should always obtain such information before agreeing to set the case.

Settlement Conferences

  • Upon agreement, the parties in any case may request a settlement conference.
  • To schedule a settlement conference, a party must telephone Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123).
  • Not less than five (5) days before the date of the settlement conference, the parties shall file with the Clerk’s office brief factual statements of the case from their viewpoints and statements of the amounts or conditions of demands or offers.
  • To the extent possible, the Judge presiding over the settlement conference will not hear the case.
  • All attorneys should come to the settlement conference with decision-making and settlement authority.
  • The client or authorized representative must be available by phone during the conference.


Trials - Civil Cases

  • Jury and non-jury trials ordinarily commence promptly at 10 a.m. 
  • Exhibits
    • Counsel should pre-mark exhibits prior to trial. Exhibit stickers may be obtained from the Clerk's Office.
    • Plaintiff's exhibits should be marked numerically and the defendant's exhibits should be marked alphabetically.  Do not use pages with tabs.
    • The list of exhibits should be filed with the Court in accordance with the Pretrial Order with copies of the exhibits made accessible to opposing counsel. However, due to space limitations, the Clerk of Court requests that exhibits not be filed with the Clerk prior to trial. 
    • Upon the conclusion of trial, counsel should prepare an order allowing the removal of exhibits from the Clerk’s Office.
  • Jury Instructions
    • Counsel should file and exchange instructions as specified in the Pretrial Order.
    • Plaintiff's instructions should be marked numerically and defendant's instructions should be marked alphabetically.
    • Efforts should be made to review the instructions prior to the conclusion of the evidence. 
  • Notification of Settlement
    • When a case is settled, counsel must call the Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123) immediately so the case can be removed from the docket and another trial scheduled in its place. This will eliminate the Court’s unnecessary review of the file.
  • Pretrial Motions and Motions in Limine that exceed five (5) minutes should be noticed and argued on Motions Day and not on the morning of trial.
  • Settlement of Jury Trials - In the event of a last minute settlement or voluntary dismissal of a jury trial, notify the court immediately to avoid possible sanctions.  Notification must be received by 6:15 a.m. on the day of trial to cancel the jury and avoid paying juror costs.

    • During business hours, call 703.746.4123.
    • After business hours, call 703.746.4347. 

Uncontested Hearings  

Uncontested hearings such as infant settlements, appointments of guardian, and fiduciary matters may be scheduled at 9 a.m. by appointment with the Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123).





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