Virginia Beach’s award from the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest stretch of pleasure beach (at 38 miles) deserves to be publicly trumpeted. Other records in the Commonwealth may also be public but really are better left alone, like divorce records and other legal proceedings.
Are Divorce Records Public in Virginia?
If you are dealing with a divorce, you may feel the state has singled you out, but relax. Many types of legal proceedings are public record, including cases before all these forums:
- Supreme Court of Virginia—These cases may be searched using a party’s name or the case number
- Court of Appeals of Virginia—These are also searchable by name or case number
- Circuit Court—These cases may be searched by locality using a party’s name, the case number, or the hearing date
- Land Records—You can access circuit court land records (as defined in Virginia Code §17.1-292) such as deeds, marriage licenses, judgments, and wills for select courts
- General District Court—Search by locality, name, case number, or hearing date for civil, criminal, and traffic cases in the general district courts
- Virginia Date of Birth Confirmation (VDBC)—This subscription service gives you access to criminal and traffic case information in the general district courts for the purpose of confirming an individual’s date of birth
- Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court—Unlike all the others, this one has many restrictions to protect the identity of minors, but some cases may be searched by name, case number, or hearing date
Where is My Divorce Filed?
For some Virginia men, the ready availability of their divorce court records can be useful. But they may not know where to look. In general, divorces are handled in Circuit Courts, with a circuit court in every county and every major Virginia city. An online listing of these circuit courts—from Accomack Circuit Court to York Circuit Court, racks up 45 pages of tiny print. Each circuit court has its own web page, but most do not offer online services from those home pages.
Instead, go to Virginia’s Circuit Court search page:
- Find the court with jurisdiction over your case (if you do not recall which circuit court handled your case, ask your divorce lawyer)
- On the next screen, click on “Civil,” since divorces are civil proceedings; you can, of course, take the opportunity to search for criminal proceedings against your ex-spouse, if you like
Just testing the system, we entered only a single last name, Smith, and were rewarded almost instantly with page after page of criminal cases ranging from speeding seven miles over the posted limit (that’s some bad juju right there) to assault and battery. We also found page after page of civil cases.
Accessing JDRDC Records
Actions involving children and stemming from separation and divorce cases will not appear under the Circuit Court pages. Virginia’s children are protected by the Commonwealth’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JDRDC). These actions are overseen by those courts:
- Child custody
- Changes to parenting time schedules
- Child support
The only online capacity with JDRDC is payment for various services. These, though, are public records, too, so being late with any fees will get your name on the searchable database.
You will not be able to learn any details about any minors through the state’s legal system, but the JDRDC’s home page does give you access to necessary forms, manuals, programs, and other information.
Beware, and Bonuses
The legal system unfolds at a leisurely pace, so do not expect any information about your case to be uploaded the day after filing. Sometimes weeks will pass before your divorce case is listed. Once listed, the case will stay in the publicly searchable database … well, more or less forever.
Also accessible through the court system’s online services:
- Assistance with Protective Orders
- Searchable Court Opinions
- Directory of Guardians Ad Litem (for children)
- Directory of Mediators
- Listings of Parenting Seminars—both for Circuit Court orders and JDRDC orders
- Searchable Remote Access (SRA) for land records such as wills, deeds, and marriage licenses
Contact us today at The Firm For Men to receive correct, accurate answers to all your questions about Virginia family law. You may also telephone our Virginia Beach office at (757) 383-9184. We probably will not be on our world-record pleasure beach, but unlike public records, you never know.