Civil cases are disputes between individuals or entities, or groups of individuals or entities. Typical civil disputes are ones in which monetary damages are sought stemming from tort (civil wrong) or breach of contract. Not all civil cases stem from monetary or contract disputes. Examples include, but are not limited to, divorce, annulment, adoption, partition of real estate, will and estate matters, name changes, appointments of church trustees and encumbrance or conveyance of church property.
The Circuit Court serves as the appellate court in civil cases appealed from the General District Court. Likewise, the Circuit Court serves as the appellate court in civil (domestic relations) cases appealed from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, typically child support, custody and visitation matters.
In civil cases where monetary claims range from $4,500 to $25,000, the Circuit Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the General District Court. Monetary disputes involving more than $25,000 fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.
In civil cases of a domestic relations nature, the Circuit Court has exclusive jurisdiction in divorce and annulment matters, including property settlement/equitable distribution of marital assets. Matters involving child support, custody, and visitation may or may not originate in the circuit court, depending on various factors.
The Supreme Court of Virginia provides a Cover Sheet for Filing Civil Actions. The form is divided into categories that make it easy for filing parties to enter the correct information. This office strongly urges the use of this form with all new civil actions. The cover sheet allows us to quickly and accurately assess fees and enter filing types, leading to more accurate indexes and data collection.
When filing a civil case in the Circuit Court, the filing party is responsible for ensuring that all pleadings are prepared in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court. Unlike the two District Courts, the Circuit Court does not typically provide "forms" for use by litigants in filing civil suits. Hence, it is strongly recommended that the services of an attorney be employed when filing a civil action at the Circuit Court level.
NOTE: Clerk's Office personnel are strictly prohibited from providing legal advice.
Circuit Court Clerk - Common Civil Actions
Restricted or Restored Operator's License An habitual offender's petition for a restricted or restored operator's license must be properly prepared in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court. The petition form is available on the website of the Supreme Court of Virginia, www.courts.state.va.us. Please call (804) 646-6536 for more information.
Divorce In order to initiate a divorce, it is necessary to file the proper pleadings prepared in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court.As there are no initiating forms available in the Clerk's Office, it is recommended that you consult an attorney. An Innovative Solution to Pro Se Divorces in Virginia:A Free On-line No Fault DivorceGuided Interview System A statewide taskforce of Virginia legal aid attorneys has developed an innovative technology-based solution to help self-represented (pro se) litigants file for simple uncontested no fault divorces in Virginia. This solution is readily available on-line for free for anyone to use, at www.VaLegalAid.org/divorce. It is designed to screen out procedurally difficult situations and/or those cases with contested issues while producing a full set of tailored, well-drafted pleadings, this tool can be a valuable resource to circuit court self-represented parties seeking no fault divorces.
Guardian Appointment Family members may find it necessary to have a guardian and/or a conservator appointed to handle the affairs of an incapacitated individual.The proper pleadings must be prepared in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court.Once a hearing has been held and an order has been entered, the party named as a guardian and/or conservator cannot act in this capacity until he/she is officially qualified by the Clerk. Guardians and/or conservators are qualified through the Probate Division.At the time you schedule a hearing with the Judge, it is suggested that you also contact the Probate Division at (804) 646-6540 to schedule an appointment for qualification. Schedule permitting, every effort will be made to accommodate parties on the same day of the hearing, provided the court order has been entered.
Property Disputes Suits involving property disputes can be very complex; therefore, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney.
Appointment of Church Trustees Appointment of church trustees is confirmed by order of the Circuit Court.A request for trustee appointment may be initiated by a letter on church letterhead or by petition from an attorney or applicant. If a petition is presented, a court order should also be presented for entry.The application must be accompanied by a copy of the meeting minutes in which the trustees were elected.For initial filings, a copy of the church discipline or by-laws should be included.
Encumbrance and Conveyance of Church Property A petition must be filed by the church trustees requesting permission to sell, encumber, make a gift, exchange, or settle boundaries.There are no initiating forms available in the Clerk's Office. The proper pleadings must be prepared in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court.
Adoptions An adoption proceeding is very complex; therefore, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney. Please be advised Clerk's Office staff cannot offer legal advice or assist you in the preparation of legal pleadings.Adoption files and proceedings are always handled in the most confidential manner. Therefore, no information will be released over the telephone. Adoption files are only made available for review under very specific circumstances. Clerk's Office staff is available to assist you in this regard.
Name Changes In order to initiate a name change, a petition/application must be prepared and filed in accordance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court. A form application is available on the Supreme Court of Virginia's web site. You may call (804) 646-6540 for more information.
The Clerk's Office prepares witness subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum (subpoenas for the production of records) for civil cases. Subpoena requests should be delivered to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office. A letter specifying the request must be provided. Subpoena requests should be in compliance with the Code of Virginia and Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court and this Court's suggested guidelines for the appropriate case type. There is no clerk's fee for issuance of witness subpoenas. For a subpoena duces tecum, a $5.00 clerk's fee must be remitted along with the request. For any type of subpoena, if service is to be perfected by the Sheriff, an additional $12.00 service fee will be required for each subpoena.
Civil Cover Sheet
Civil Filing Fee Calculation
Suggested Practices and Procedures in Law Cases in the Circuit Courts of Richmond, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Henrico
Suggested Guidelines & Practices in Domestic Relations Cases for the 12th, 13th and 14th Judicial Circuits (Chesterfield/Colonial Heights, Richmond and Henrico)