In Virginia, divorces are handled in the Circuit Courts, which, by their nature are not set up very well for people to represent themselves (what we refer to as “pro se” parties). This is because there are very specific statutes that control divorces and they can be quite complicated. Each particular locality (what we refer to as “venue”) handles the actual procedure regarding divorces differently. All Courts must follow the Code of Virginia as to the substance of divorce cases, but they are free to adopt their own procedures on handling cases brought in their courts and they vary greatly.
In every Circuit Court, the process is started with filing a legal document called a “Complaint,” which outlines the specific facts necessary to allege to seek a divorce. Unlike in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, where most post-divorce matters and matters involving unmarried parents are held, Circuit Court is not form-driven, meaning that you have to create your own filings. Because of the complexities of Circuit Court and divorces in general, I always advise those seeking a divorce to hire competent counsel to ensure your rights are fully protected and to ensure your divorce is finalized properly.