Circuit Court Local Procedures - Civil

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

Page updated on Apr 29, 2021 at 4:31 PM

JUDGES' CHAMBERS' email box deactivated effective 5/3/2021

  • Effective 5/3/2021, CircuitCourtChambers@alexandriava.gov will be deactivated. 
    • All courtesy copies should be hand-delivered to the Circuit Court Judges’ Chambers’ drop box located on the 4th floor of the Courthouse.
      DO NOT use the Clerk of Circuit Court's drop box in the courthouse vestibule, as the receipt of the documents in Judges' Chambers will be delayed.
  • Please call Judges’ Chambers (703.746.4123) if you have any questions.


1.  AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

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


    

2.  COPE PARENTING SEMINAR  

A.    COPE Parenting Seminar is REQUIRED in all contested divorce cases where the parties have minor children and seek a ruling as to custody.

B.    The COPE Parenting Seminar is NOT REQUIRED in the following uncontested divorce cases: (a) parties have reached an agreement as to custody and ask the Court to incorporate their written agreement into the Final Decree of Divorce; (b) custody has already been determined by a separate court order; or (c) parties have minor children but the Final Decree does not make a ruling as to custody.


3.  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 of Circuit Court's Office a self-addressed, stamped envelope.    www.alexandriava.gov/ClerkofCourt  703.746.4044


4.  DIVORCE CASES - UNCONTESTED


A.     Affidavits or Depositions Are Filed   In lieu of providing oral testimony in front of a judge in the courtroom, uncontested divorces may also proceed by affidavit or deposition pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-106.

  • Step #1 - Plaintiff must file all required documents with the Clerk of Circuit Court, including the proposed Final Decree, the Property Settlement Agreement (if any), proof of service and notice, VS-4 form, privacy addendum, COPE parenting seminar certificate (if needed; see below), and name change order (if any).
    • COPE Parenting Seminar - see information above.
    • VS-4 FORM - The Virginia State Form 4  is mandatory for all divorce cases and cannot be downloaded. The form is available in the vestibule of the courthouse, or by calling the Clerk of Circuit Court at 703‑746‑4044 or Judges’ Chambers at 703‑746‑4123. 
    • If Defendant signed the acceptance of service of waiver of notice ("Acceptance/Waiver"), the Defendant must also sign the Final Decree.  
    • The Acceptance/Waiver must be notarized.  The Final Decree does not.
    • 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 Circuit 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.
  • Step #2  In addition, Plaintiff and Witness each file an affidavit or deposition.
    • The affidavit or deposition must state that neither party is pregnant from the marriage.
    • During COVID-19, the Plaintiff and Witness may use a sworn Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury (see Va. Code § 8.01-4.3) to satisfy the requirements of a sworn statement under Va. Code § 20-99.1:1 (acceptance and waiver of service of process) and Va. Code § 20-106 (divorce by affidavit).=
  • FINAL DECREE will be entered after the documents are processed and forwarded by the Clerk of Circuit Court to the Circuit Court Judges' Chambers, and are reviewed by a Law Clerk (which may take four to six weeks). 

B.   Annulments are heard at 10:00 a.m., even if the annulment is uncontested.  See "Divorce Cases - Contested" below.

C.     Ore tenus Hearings are heard at 9:00 a.m. in the courtroom. Plaintiff and his or her Witness provide oral testimony in the Courtroom.

  • Step #1 - Plaintiff must file all required documents with the Clerk of Circuit Court, including the proposed Final Decree, the Property Settlement Agreement (if any), proof of service and notice, VS-4 form, privacy addendum, COPE parenting seminar certificate (if needed; see below), and name change order (if any).
    • COPE Parenting Seminar - see information above.
    • VS-4 FORM - The Virginia State Form 4  is mandatory for all divorce cases and cannot be downloaded. The form is available in the vestibule of the courthouse, or by calling the Clerk of Circuit Court at 703‑746‑4044 or Judges’ Chambers at 703‑746‑4123. 
    • If  Defendant signed the acceptance of service and waiver of notice ("Acceptance/Waiver"), the defendant must also sign the Final Decree.

  • Step #2 - Plaintiff's counsel (or pro se plaintiff) shall call Judges' Chambers (703.746.4123) to schedule a hearing. 
    • During COVID-19, ore tenus hearings are scheduled for most Tuesday mornings at 9:00 a.m. in the courtroom and will be limited to six (6) cases. Contact a Circuit Court Administrator in Judges' Chambers  (703.746.4123) to schedule the case. All documents, including the proposed Final Decree, must be filed with the Clerk of Court one week before calling Judges' Chambers to schedule the hearing date. Hearing dates will be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the hearing date.
  • Step #3 - Plaintiff, plaintiff's counsel (if any) and witness appear in the courtroom for oral testimony. 
    • Defendant may attend the ore tenus hearing, but cannot be the witness.  
  • FINAL DECREE will be entered on the date of the ore tenus hearing except in cases which service was by publication. 
    If service was by publication, the Final Decree will be entered when the Court receives a written transcript of the ore tenus hearing.


5.   DIVORCE CASES - CONTESTED

A.   Annulment cases are heard on the Circuit Court's 10:00 a.m. docket. Contact Judges' Chambers to schedule (703.746.4123).

B.    Equitable Distribution Cases, and cases involving child and spousal support, are heard on the 10:00 a.m. docket.  After service has been issued, and the proof of service has been filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court, call Judges' Chambers at 703.746.4123 to schedule a trial date. 

         Step #1 - Plaintiff must file all required documents with the Clerk of Circuit Court, including the proposed Final Decree, proof of service, VS-4 form, privacy addendum, parenting seminar certificate (if needed; see below), and name change order (if any). The VS-4 FORM - The Virginia State Form 4  is mandatory for all divorce cases and cannot be downloaded. The form is available in the vestibule of the courthouse, or by calling the Clerk of Circuit Court at 703.746.4044 or Judges’ Chambers at 703.746.4123. 

         Step #2  - Defendant must be served.  Proof of service shall be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court. 

         Step #3 - Trial date is scheduled  by counsel or pro se litigants calling Judges' Chambers to schedule the trial date. 

                         A pretrial conference is required for all Equitable Distribution cases. The pretrial conference is a brief hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on a date four to six weeks prior to the trial date. The judge will ask about outstanding issues, estimated length of trial, and possibility of settlement. Motions to continue should be scheduled separately from the pretrial conference. 

       Step #4  - 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 - In all Equitable Distribution cases, and cases involving child and spousal support,  counsel or pro se litigants  must meet at least ten (10) days before trial and prepare in writing the agreed factors.   The agreed factors shall be submitted to the Clerk of Circuit Court no later than five (5) days before trial.  A courtesy copy of the agreed factors shall be hand-delivered to Circuit Court Judges' Chambers' drop box located on the 4th floor of the Courthouse.  If the parties cannot agree, each party shall submit his/her own proposed factors. 

       Step #5 - Parties and counsel appear at the trial date.  A witness is required to provide testimony as to the date of separation, etc. 



6.  INCLEMENT WEATHER/EMERGENCY POLICY FOR CIRCUIT COURT  

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


7.   PENDENTE LITE SUPPORT HEARINGS   

        In order to expedite the support hearing, the parties to a contested hearing should (a) prepare and sign financial statements indicating the financial needs and incomes of the parties; (b) review the child support guidelines contained in Va. Code § 20-108.2 and determine the appropriate amount suggested therein; and (c) make a reasonable attempt to resolve the matter between themselves.


8.  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.


9.  MOTIONS DAY 

See Circuit Court procedures www.alexandriava.gov/CircuitCourt


10.  PRO SE LITIGANTS - NOTICE TO PRO SE LITIGANTS   

Pro se litigants are litigants who do not have counsel and are representing themselves.  See Circuit Court procedures www.alexandriava.gov/CircuitCourt


11.  PRETRIAL CONFERENCES

  • The Court requires a pretrial conference in all cases scheduled for three (3) days or more, and in all equitable distribution cases.
  • In addition, any party in any case may ask for and receive a pretrial conference. Counsel or pro se litigants shall call Judges' Chambers (703.746.4123) to request a pretrial conference.
    • The pretrial conference is a brief hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on a date four to six weeks prior to the trial date. 
    • Only counsel and pro se litigants are required to attend the pretrial conference.
    • The judge will ask about outstanding issues, estimated length of trial, and possibility of settlement.
    • Motions to continue should be scheduled separately from the pretrial conference. 
  • During COVID-19, if possible, the Court is conducting pretrial conferences by telephone conference call.  Counsel and pro se parties are directed to coordinate a telephone conference call (with all counsel and pro se litigants on the same telephone call), and then call Judges' Chambers at 703-746-4123. 



12.  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.  Courtesy copy of such statements should be provided to Circuit Court Judges' Chambers.
  • 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.


13.  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.



14.  TERM DAY

To select a trial date, counsel or pro se litigants may schedule a case for Term Day by filing a Praecipe for Term Day with the Clerk of the Court no later than the Wednesday preceding the 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, the Term Day will be held the next day Court is open.  

Term Days for 2021 are:  January 11, March 8, May 10, July 12, September 13, and November 8.


15.   TRIAL DATES - SETTING CIVIL TRIAL DATES

Civil Cases - To schedule a trial date;

A.  Option #1 - Call Judges' Chambers - Counsel and/or pro se litigants are encouraged to set trial dates by calling the court administrators at 703.746.4123.  

B.   Option #2 - Status Conference is scheduled by the Court four (4) months after the case is initiated.  Counsel/pro se litigants respond to select a trial date. 

C.   Option #3 - Term Day - Counsel or pro se litigant schedules a Term Day by properly and timely filing.  Term Day instructions are above.

D.    Option #4 - Motions Day - If counsel or pro se litigant wishes to schedule a motion to set a trial date, the praecipe or notice must be properly and timely filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court prior to the Motions Day deadline.  Motions Day instructions are available on  www.alexandriava.gov/CircuitCourt

E.   Option #5 - Appeals/Selection of Trial Date - Counsel must confirm by filling out, signing, and returning a Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order for entry by the Court.

  • 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.  The Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order shall be entered at the time the case is set for trial.  If the trial date is selected by telephone (during COVID-19 or otherwise),  counsel/pro se litigant must confirm the trial date by completing and signing the Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order. The Uniform Pretrial Scheduling Order shall be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court. 



16.  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 Scheduling 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. 

17.  UNCONTESTED HEARINGS  

Uncontested hearings may be scheduled on a Motions Day or on the 9:00 a.m. uncontested docket by appointment. After filing all required documents, counsel or pro se litigants shall call Judges' Chambers at 703.746.4123. 

  • Appointments of Guardian
  • Fiduciary matters
  • Infant settlements

  • COVID-19 update:  See Revised memorandum on main page of this website at www.alexandriava.gov/circuitcourt.





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