What happens in a Divorce?

A divorce case can handle the following issues:

  • end the marriage
  • reinstate a former name
  • divide property and debt
  • support of a spouse
  • support of a child
  • custody and visitation (parenting time)
  • parentage issues if necessary

Which Court handles divorce?

Divorces are heard in the Circuit Court.  Custody, visitation, child support, parentage and spousal support may be resolved in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.  After a divorce, requests to revise support, custody and visitation generally go to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

What are the different kinds of divorce?

There are three kinds of divorces: Uncontested, No-Fault, and Contested.

What resources can help me understand the divorce process?

There are no official court forms dealing with the process of spousal separation or divorce.  Information about the divorce process, as well as practical concerns about financial matters and custody, is available from the Virginia State Bar and VALegalAid.org.  These organizations and the find a lawyer resources, along with your local court, local law library or local Bar Association may also be able to refer you to someone who can help.  VA Law Help 2 Go offers a video that explains your options in pursuing an uncontested divorce from your partner.

The Spare the Child video, a project of the Virginia State Bar's Family Law Section, guides parents through the difficult task of restructuring their family. The documentary-style, conversational video uses everyday language.  It gives examples from people experienced with divorce, such as judges, lawyers, guardians ad litem, counselors, teachers, and children of divorce.

What about custody, visitation and support?

Please visit the Custody and Support page.


Table of Contents

  1. Circuit Court
  2. Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court

Circuit Court


There is a circuit court in each city and county in Virginia. The circuit court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Virginia. The circuit court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000. It shares authority with the general district court to hear matters involving claims between $4,500 and $25,000. The circuit court has the authority to hear serious criminal cases called felonies.

The circuit court also handles family matters, including divorce. In addition, the circuit court hears cases appealed from the general district court and from the juvenile and domestic relations district court.



Contact Information

Case Status and Information



Reference Materials

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court


There is a juvenile and domestic relations district court in each Virginia city and county.  In Virginia, a juvenile is any person under 18 years of age.  The juvenile and domestic relations district court hears all matters involving juveniles such as criminal or traffic matters.  Juvenile delinquency cases are for a minor under the age of 18 who has been accused of committing an offense that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult.  Other juvenile offenses may be referred to as status offenses.  Status offenses are those acts that are unlawful only because they are committed by a minor.

In addition, this court handles other matters involving the family such as custody, support and visitation.  The court also hears family abuse cases, cases where adults have been accused of child abuse or neglect, and criminal cases where the defendant and alleged victim are family or household members. See the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts Informational Pamphlet for more information.



Contact Information



Resources and Reference Materials