Does the plaintiff have to be present at the divorce hearing

My wife and I have been separated for over three years and have agreed to a divorce. There are no children or financial issues so it is just a matter of filing. After speaking with my wife today she has agreed to a divorce as long as I pay for everything which is not a problem. I do not see the need to hire an attorney in this simple case and will be filing the paper work myself. The issue is that I will be leaving the country for an extended period of time. My date of departure is August 8th which is only three weeks away. I will be filing this week, however; I would expect that the hearing would not be scheduled before I leave. So my question is do I have to be present since I am the plaintiff?

Yes, the Plaintiff will need to be there unless Plaintiff is represented instead by counsel at the hearing for an Absolute Divorce. You can hire an attorney to appear on your behalf, otherwise you as the Plaintiff will need to be present. The Defendant will need to be served with the Complaint for divorce and also a Civil Summons. After her 30 days have expired in which your wife can file an Answer to your Complaint, you may then request a court date from the Clerk to schedule your Absolute Divorce hearing. You must also send the Defendent a Notice of Hearing, which requires you to give her at least 5 days notice of the court date. It will typically take 30-60 days from beginning to end, so it seems that the timing will be problematic for you.