Ore Tenus: The Divorce Hearing
You have negotiated all of the support and child custody issues, divided all of your property to each spouse’s satisfaction, and filed all of the necessary paperwork with the court. You are now at the end of the process, which in Virginia is called the ore tenus hearing.
In Virginia, many uncontested divorces can now be completed without ever setting foot in a courtroom. However, there are situations where a hearing is necessary (for example, if the defendant spouse is absent and cannot be found). Assuming there are no issues to be decided, the plaintiff can request the hearing any time after the defendant answers the complaint.
At an ore tenus hearing, the judge listens to testimony from the party asking for divorce and his/her corroborating fact witness. These questions cover how long the parties have been living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption, whether there is intent to remain separate and apart, whether there are support/custody and property issues still in dispute, and if there is any hope for reconciliation.
If there are no issues in dispute, the hearing itself can tend to be less formal than the usual proceeding. The corroborating witness may be allowed to be present for the petitioner’s testimony, and the questions are routine. The entire proceeding usually lasts around 10 to 15 minutes, and when it is over and the judge signs the decree and the parties are officially divorced.
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