1.) Clerk's Office - Why won't they Answer my Questions? What information can the Clerk provide to me?

The Clerk of Court and her staff are not allowed to give legal advice.  The Clerks can provide you with the forms that you may need to fill out and can provide some general information.  If you are seeking legal advice, you will need to contact an attorney. 


2.) Should I get an attorney?

 You will have to decide whether you want an attorney.  If you want to hire an attorney, you will need to notify the Court immediately.  Some adult parties may qualify for Court appointed counsel.  If it is a criminal case and you are found guilty as an adult, you may have to reimburse the State for all or a portion of the lawyer’s fee as set by the State.  Adults may be able to obtain a Court appointed attorney for cases where adults are  charged with a crime or a failure to comply with a Court order and for cases where children are alleged to have been abused or neglected or  parental rights are being terminated.

 Some Children may qualify for counsel in cases where the children have committed a crime for which they can receive jail time or where the children are alleged to be a Child in Need of Supervision (CHINSupervision) or a Child in Need of Services (CHINServices.).

Children may also receive a Guardian ad litem in cases where the Child is alleged to have committed a crime, is alleged to be a CHINSupervision or CHINServices, or is alleged to be abused or neglected or where the child is a Defendant or Respondent in a custody/visitation, child support or Protective Order case.


3.) What is a Guardian ad litem (GAL)?

 A GAL is an attorney who represents the best interests of the child.  The GAL is required to recommend what he or she feels is best for the child.  The GAL will consider what the child and the parents want but is not required to follow those wishes.

 The GAL will usually meet with the child and will do an independent investigation.  The GAL may call witnesses at the trial and may introduce documents or other exhibits.  The parents may be required to reimburse the State for all or a portion of the fee of the GAL.

 If you believe that your child needs a GAL, talk to the Clerk or your Attorney.


4.) What matters are confidential?

Hearings involving crimes by adults are open to the public.  Most hearings involving juveniles may be closed to the public.  If you are not in the Courtroom when your case is called, the case will be called over the loudspeaker system that can be heard on the first floor.

Adult court files, other than child support, are generally open to the public.  Access to juvenile files is restricted to the child, parents and custodians.  A photo id will have to be presented at the time that access to the files is requested.


5.) Court Hearings - Who is Entitled to Notice?

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 Services 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.


6.) My First Court Appearance - What Happens?

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 right 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. The Respondent (the person against whom the Protective Order is issued) may ask for the hearing on the final Protective Order to be set out beyond 15 days.  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.  You may ask for the hearing on the final Protective Order to be set out beyond 15 days.   If a continuance is granted, however, the Preliminary Protective Order remains in effect until the final hearing is held.

Cases to Establish or Modify Child Support or Spousal Support - Adult Petitioner or Respondent - The Court usually enters a Support Order at the first hearing.  You will need to bring your evidence and witnesses, if any, to the first hearing. 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 - In accordance with state law, the parties in these cases are usually referred to mediation and to parent education classes.  The Clerk may appoint a Guardian ad litem for the child.  At the first hearing, the Court will enter an Order if the parties are in agreement or if there are few issues.  If more time is needed, another hearing will be scheduled.

Juvenile Delinquency Cases - The child and the parent will be advised of the child's right to an attorney.  The judge will appoint a lawyer as appropriate, set a trial date, and may decide on whether the child will be detained 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 traffic cases where a child can be sent to detention as punishment, the officer will set a date for the child and parent to come to court to be advised of the right to an attorney. The case will not be heard that date unless the child waives his or her right to have a lawyer. 

CHINServices and CHINSupervision Cases - At the first hearing date you will be advised of your right to have an attorney.  The Court will set the trial date and appoint an attorney and/or a Guardian ad litem as appropriate.  At the next hearing you should bring any witnesses with you.

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 Guardian ad litem is appointed for the child and a lawyer is appointed for each parent.  The name and contact information for each 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 - At the first hearing date the Court will talk with the parents about their right to an attorney and will appoint an attorney where appropriate.  A trial date will be set by the Court.


 11.) Support Order - Enforcing Support Orders - How do I Register my Support Order from the State where we were Divorced?

If you live in the County of Culpeper, you may bring a certified copy of the support order entered by the court in the other state to the Culpeper 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.


12.) Support Order - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be Paid by the Respondent if the Respondent is Not Paying the ordered Child Support?

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.


13.) Support Order - Enforcing Support Orders - What can I do to be Paid if my Child's Father Resides in Another State? 

 You may contact the Division of Child Support Enforcement for information on petitioning the court in the other state.