Discovery in Civil Cases in Virginia’s Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court
In Virginia, the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court is a creature of statute. The court has jurisdiction over a wide variety of cases. By way of example, cases can involve child and spousal support determinations or enforcement, visitation schedules, foster care placement, establishing parentage, family abuse protective orders, as well as criminal matters involving juveniles and sometimes adults. There are a lot of rules particular to this court. This article is going to address discovery in civil cases.
Discovery in Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court is governed by Rule 8:15. This is starting point for both civil and criminal matters. Leave of court is required in order for one party to propound discovery upon another party, and a court must find good cause before allowing the discovery or inspection of evidence. It is not permissible for an attorney to simply propound discovery upon the other side as would occur in Circuit Court civil litigation. If this occurs, a motion to quash is appropriate.
Discovery can be handled through agreed-upon orders, which usually can be submitted to the court clerk for the judge’s signature. Alternatively, discovery matters can be addressed at a status hearing or on the court’s regularly scheduled motions docket. As a matter of best practices, an attorney unfamiliar with a particular courthouse should call the clerk in advance and ask about scheduling hearings involving contested discovery matters.