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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court - How can it help me?
Alexandria Court Service Unit - How can it help me?
Clerk's Office - What information do I need to provide?
Clerk's Office - Why won't they answer my questions?
Court Hearings - Confidentiality
Court Hearings - Who is entitled to notice?
Custody - Deciding custody - What is the Court's primary consideration?
Custody - Joint - What is it?
Custody - Sole - What is it?
Custody - Family or Household member - Who qualifies?
Custody - Person with legitimate interest - Who qualifies?
Custody - How do I register my custody order in Virginia?
Custody - What is the benefit of registering an out of state custody order in Virginia?
Custody and Visitation, Support, Adult Protective Order - Where do I start?
Custody and Visitation Case - What information do I provide to the judge?
Existing Court Order - How do I change it?
FOCUS Program - What is it?
My first court appearance - What happens?
Northern Virginia Regional Detention Home - What is it?
Shelter Care - What is it?
Support - Child or Spousal Support Case - What information should I bring to Court?
Support - Enforcing Support Orders - How do I register my support order from the state where we were divorced?
Support - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be paid if my child's father resides in another state?
Support - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be paid if the respondent is not paying the child support?

 

Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court - How can it help me? (top)

Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court responsibilities include:

 

Alexandria Court Service Unit - How can it help me?(top)

The Alexandria Court Service Unit responsibilities include:

  • Intake
  • Juvenile Probation Supervision
  • Diversion of Cases from System
  • Adult Supervision of Domestic Violence Cases
  • Filing Cases for Hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
 

Clerk's Office - What information do I need to provide? (top)

If the matter concerns a child, i.e., custody, visitation delinquency, traffic or status, you will need the child's name, as the file will be labeled under the child's name. If the matter concerns support or an adult protective order, the file will be labeled petitioner/payee vs. respondent/payor.

If a criminal warrant has been issued by a magistrate, the matter will be styled Commonwealth of Virginia. vs. defendant's name.

Recorded Information and Phone Calls: The Clerk's Office will confirm the existence of a file based on information provided by you, the inquirer. If you want to obtain detailed information from the file, you will need to come to the Clerk's Office to review the file between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Adult records are open to the public. Juvenile records are confidential and made available for inspection only, by order of the court, to parties having a legitimate interest in the case.

 

Clerk's Office - Why won't they answer my questions? (top)

The Clerk of Court and his staff are not allowed to give legal advice, and many times the questions that people ask are questions that should properly be asked of lawyers.

The Clerk of Court and his staff can give you help with the forms that need to be filled out and are allowed to answer some basic questions that do not involve providing legal advice to you.

As most juvenile petitions are confidential in nature, assistance over the telephone may be very limited.  It is suggested that if you need assistance with basic questions (court date/time, etc.) that you have your case number available when calling the court.  The only individuals that will have this information will be parties that are a part of the petition before the court.  The case number can be found on the petition or summons/notice of hearing issued for your appearance.

In the alternative, please come to the Clerk's Office and have sufficient identification so that the Clerk of Court and his staff may better assist.

 

Court Hearings - Confidentiality (top)

Because much of the work of this Court involves children, the Court has a duty to protect the confidentiality of many of its hearings. As such the general public is not permitted to be in the courtroom for many of the hearings that take place and is not normally permitted access to court records involving children. There are certain limited exceptions mostly relating to allegations of serious delinquent acts by juveniles where the court can release information to the public.

 

Court Hearings - Who is entitled to notice? (top)

In most cases that involve a child, the parents of that child are entitled to notice as to the time and date of the court hearing. It is the responsibility of the person who files a Petition or a motion to bring information that will allow the Court Service Unit and the Court to properly provide notice to the parents and any person who has legal custody of a child. If that information is not supplied at the beginning, the case may have to be continued to another day in order to allow for proper notice to be provided to an absent parent or other custodian.

In certain cases any child who is twelve years of age or older is entitled to notice of the hearing as well.

In cases such as delinquency and abuse and neglect, the court can proceed with those cases under certain circumstances even though notice has not been given to one or both parents.

 

Custody - Deciding custody - What is the Court's primary consideration? (top)

Under Virginia law, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either. The court is to give due regard to the primacy of the parent-child relationship but may upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the best interest of the child would be served thereby award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest.

 

Custody - Joint Custody - What is it? (top)

Virginia Law defines it as:

  1. joint legal custody where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child's primary residence may be with only one parent,

  2. joint physical custody where both parents share the physical and custodial care of the child, or

  3. any combination of joint legal and joint physical custody which the court deems to be in the best interest of the child.
 

Custody - Sole Custody - What is it? (top)

It means that one person retains responsibility for the care and control of a child and has primary authority to make decisions concerning the child.

 

Custody - Family or Household member - Who qualifies? (top)

Virginia Law defines a family or household member as:

  1. the person's spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person,
  2. the person's former spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person,
  3. the person's parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of whether such person reside in the same home with the person,
  4. the person's mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the person,
  5. any individual who has a child in common with the person, whether or not the person and that individual has been married or have resided together at any time or
  6. any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous twelve months, cohabited with the person, and any children of either of them then residing the same home with the person.
 

Custody - Person with legitimate interest - Who qualifies? (top)

Under Virginia law, this is to be broadly construed and includes, but is not limited to grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives, and family members provided any such party has intervened in the case or is otherwise properly before the court. The statute also defines who is not included in the definition of a person with a legitimate interest.

 

Custody - How do I register my custody order in Virginia? (top)

If you and the child live in the City of Alexandria, you may bring a certified copy of the custody order entered in another state to the Clerk's Office of the Alexandria Juvenile Court for registration.

 

Custody - What is the benefit of registering an out of state custody order in Virginia? (top)

Once the order in registered, you may file a motion to amend the out-of-state order in the Alexandria Juvenile Court.

 

Custody and Visitation, Support, Adult Protective Order - Where do I start? (top)

If you are filing for the first time for custody, visitation, spousal or child support, or an adult protective order, you should consider the following:

Custody and Visitation:

Where does the child live? If it is in the City of Alexandria, you come to the Alexandria Court Service Unit. If it is in another city or county, you go to the Court Service Unit in that jurisdiction.

Support:

Where do you (petitioner/payee) or the person you are seeking to pay support (respondent/payor) live? Is it within the City limits of Alexandria? If so you can file a Petition in this court by going to the Alexandria Court Service Unit.

Adult Protective Order:

Where do you or the person that you say committed the family violence live? Where did the family violence occur? You can go to the Court Service Unit in the jurisdiction where you or the respondent live or where the event occurred.

If the any of the above applies to your situation and Alexandria is the correct jurisdiction:

  1. Make an appointment with an Intake Officer at the Court Services Unit.
  2. It is located at 520 King Street, 1st Floor, Alexandria, Va. 22314
  3. Their phone number is 703 746-4144.
  4. They are open 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM weekdays.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you have an Alexandria mailing address but live in Fairfax County, with zip codes of 22306, 22307, 22308, 22309, 22310, 22315 you need to contact the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Further information can be obtained by clicking on the following link:  Protecitve Orders.

 

Custody and Visitation Case - What information do I provide to the judge? (top)

That information can be found in section 20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia.

In short it is as follows:

  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
  • The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child's life, the ability to accurately assess and met the emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of the child
  • The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers, and extended family members
  • The role which each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child
  • The propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child
  • The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference
  • Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in the Virginia Code
  • Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination
 

Existing Court Order - How do I change it? (top)

If you have an existing order (custody, visitation, support or protective order) previously entered by the Alexandria Juvenile Court and you want the existing order changed, you need to come to the Clerk's Office to file the appropriate motion to amend order.

 

FOCUS Program - What is it? (top)

This is a parent education program run by the Court Service Unit of the Court that is intended to help parents understand their rights and responsibilities regarding their children and the impact that fighting and bad behavior by parents has on children.

 

My first court appearance - What happens? (top)

That depends on the kind of case that you are involved in:

Adult Defendant in a Criminal Case - Your first court appearance will be to advise you of your rights to a lawyer, possibly the appointment of a lawyer for you (if you qualify), and the setting of a trial date in your case. Do not bring your witnesses to this first hearing as there will be no trial that day.

Adult Protective Order Case - Adult Petitioner - Your first court appearance will be for the possible issuance of a Preliminary Protective Order and an explanation of what will happen at the next hearing. At that next court hearing, which will be within fifteen days, you will have to be prepared to present your evidence to try to prove that a final protective order should be entered. You have the right to hire a lawyer to help you with your case. You should bring your witnesses with you to this second hearing. As a result of recent changes in Virginia law that went into effect July 1, 2001, upon motion of the respondent and for good cause shown, the final hearing can be continued to another date. In that event the Preliminary Protective Order remains in effect until that final hearing.

Adult Protective Order Case - Adult Respondent - Your first court appearance in most instances will be a trial on the Petition filed by the Petitioner. You will have to be prepared to present your evidence to try to prove why a final protective order should not be entered. You have the right to hire a lawyer to help you with your case. You should bring your witnesses to this hearing.As a result of recent changes in Virginia law that went into effect July 1, 2001, the respondent can request a continuance that can be granted upon good cause shown. If a continuance is granted, however, the Preliminary Protective Order remains in effect until the final hearing is held.

Child Support or Spousal Support Case - Adult Petitioner or Respondent - The first hearing in these cases is set to advise people of their rights to a lawyer and to see what agreements can be reached. If agreements can be reached, some or all of the case can be taken care of at that first hearing. If an agreement cannot be reached, another hearing date will be set in the near future for the court to decide the case. If paternity of a child is an issue, a Paternity Testing Order may be entered at that first hearing date.

Custody and Visitation Cases - Petitioner and Respondent

  • A judge will probably order the parents to attend a parent education program called FOCUS that is run by the Court Service Unit
  • If the parents are both present and have reached an agreement, an agreed order will be entered and the case will be continued to another day for the parents to attend FOCUS and then return to court for any modifications of the custody/visitation order that may be needed
  • If the parents are present and not in agreement, they will be given a chance to settle the case that morning, may be offered the opportunity to mediate their case, and may have a short hearing to determine temporary custody and visitation until a final hearing can be held
  • If one parent is present and there is legal notice to the other parent, a custody/visitation order may be entered
  • If one parent is present and there is no legal notice to the other parent, a temporary custody/visitation order may be entered and the person present in court will be required to obtain proper legal notice on the other parent
  • You should not bring your witnesses to this first hearing

Juvenile Delinquency Cases - The Intake Officer will advise the child of his/her rights and will also inform the parent of the child's rights. The child and the parent will be offered the chance to request a court appointed lawyer. They will then appear before one of the judges of the court who will further question the juvenile about his/her understanding of his/her rights. The judge will appoint a lawyer as appropriate, set a trial date, and will decide on whether the child will be detained at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Home or Sheltercare Facility until the trial or released to a parent or other custodian under certain conditions of release.

Juvenile Traffic Cases - the routine traffic cases will be heard on the date set by the officer unless the parent or the Commonwealth Attorney asks for a continuance before the court date that was set by the police officer. In some cases where a child can be sent to the detention home as punishment, the officer will set a date for the child and parent to come to court to be advised of the right to counsel. The case will not be heard that date but will then be continued to a new date for trial.

CHINS Cases - The first hearing date will be the trial date. The Clerk of Court will have appointed a lawyer for the child and the lawyer's name will be provided to the child on papers that are sent to the child. It is the responsibility of the child and his/her parent to make contact with that lawyer before the first return/trial date. You should bring any witnesses with you for this hearing.

Abuse and Neglect Cases - Normally the first hearing for parents in these cases happens within 5 business days after a Petition has been filed. When the Petition is filed, a lawyer is appointed for each parent and the name and contact information for that lawyer is provided to the parent on the notice that is sent to the parent. The law requires that a hearing occur at that first court date so it is important for parents to try to contact their lawyer as soon as possible in order to prepare for that hearing.

Termination of Parental Rights Cases - The first hearing date will be the trial date unless there is some objection by the parent or counsel for the parent. In that event the case may be continued to another nearby date for a trial.

 

Northern Virginia Regional Detention Home - What is it? (top)

It is a facility run by the Northern Virginia Regional Detention Commission that houses children from Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church on a pretrial basis and under certain circumstances on a post dispositional basis in a secure setting.

 

Shelter Care - What is it? (top)

This is a program that is less secure than detention where children are placed by parental agreement or court order for periods of time to help children and families work on problems that they might have.

 

Support - Child or Spousal Support Case - What information should I bring to Court? (top)

Bring at least the following:

  • Your most recent pay stub and other evidence of income that may be available.
  • A statement from your child care provider as to the cost of that service during the time that you are working.
  • Information as to how much money you are paying for health care insurance for yourself and for your child or children. The amounts should be separated so that the judge can determine what is for you and what is for your child/children.
  • Information as to how much money you are receiving from other parents for the support of children in your care.
  • Information as to how much money you are paying to support other children, a current husband/wife, or former husbands/wives.
 

Support order - Enforcing Support Orders - How do I register my support order from the state where we were divorced? (top)

If you live in the City of Alexandria, you may bring a certified copy of the support order entered by the court in the other state to the Alexandria Juvenile Court Clerk's Office for registration. The Clerk's Office has a form titled Request for Registration of Foreign Support Order which must be completed and signed by you, the petitioner. Once it is filed, the Clerk's Office will send the appropriate notices.

 

Support Order - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be paid if my child's father resides in another state? (top)

You may contact the Division of Child Support Enforcement at 1-866-488-2591 for information on petitioning the court in the other state.

 

Support Order - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be paid if the respondent is not paying the child support? (top)

The Clerk's Office has a form titled Motion for Show Cause Summons, which you may want to complete. This form has to be signed and sworn to before the Clerk or a Deputy Clerk. The respondent is then summoned to court to explain why the support amount has not been paid. You are also given notice of the hearing. If support is being paid through the Division of Child Support Enforcement, you can ask that office for assistance as well.

520 King St., 1st Floor
Alexandria, VA 22314
703.746.4141
E-mail

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.