At least the Virginia legislature is not as bad as the Cleveland Browns, 0-16 for the 2017 season and benighted with an even more dismal performance than 2016’s 1-151. Most sports teams do not trumpet a 6-20 season (uh, dream on, Cleveland). Virginia’s legislature, though, is not a sports team. Passing six family law bills for 2017 is actually a notable accomplishment, even when saddled with 20 failed pieces of legislation designed to protect, defend and clarify the rights of Virginia’s men, women and children.

The Year’s Family Law Failures

Besides the Cleveland Browns, failures of 2017 we Virginians must endure and acknowledge includes 20 family law bills the Virginia House or Senate failed to enact. The list is long, but the 20 failed bills fall into several categories, including issues like these:

  • Guardians ad litem — VA H 1241 would have required a guardian ad litem appointed in a custody or visitation case to submit (to the court) a form certifying that she or he complied with all applicable standards; VA H 1957 required a guardian ad litem appointed in a custody or visitation proceeding to submit to the court a form certifying that she or he complied with all applicable standards for attorneys appointed as guardians ad litem
  • Adultery — VA S 1124 attempted to reduce the penalty for adultery from a Class 4 misdemeanor to a civil penalty of not more than $250
  • Right to Discriminate/Religious Freedom — VA H 2025, the “Religious Freedom and Solemnization of Marriage Bill,” known to detractors as a license to discriminate and in apparent violation of federal law, was vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe; nobody would have been required to solemnize a marriage or be subject to a penalty, civil liability, or any other action by the state of Virginia solely because of the person’s belief, speech, or action performed in accordance with a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction
  • Spousal Support — VA S 1317 would have prohibited combat-related military disability benefits received by either spouse from being used to calculate spousal support
  • Child Support — VA S 1505 would have provided a way to stay (delay) a child support order if a child was in the care of Juvenile Justice, and the child support would have resumed upon the juvenile’s release from custody; VA H 1611 would have required the DMV to renew a driver’s license or terminate a license suspension imposed due to delinquency in the payment of child support when it received (from the Department of Social Services) certification that the person reached an agreement with DSS to satisfy the delinquency and had begun paying current support; and VA H 2048 would have prevented Virginia courts from suspending the driver’s license of a person delinquent in fines or child support if the court found that the person’s failure to pay was due to his inability to pay

The Year’s Family Law Frontrunners

Six bills related to family law were enacted in 2017 and signed into law by the governor early in the calendar year:

  1. VA H 1456 — This law, enacted February 17, allows a court (in a case involving the custody or visitation of a child) to use the phrase “parenting time” to be synonymous with the term “visitation.”
  2. VA H 1492 — Enacted February 20, the law allows the court to order that child support payments, upon the request of either parent, be made to a special needs trust or an ABLE savings trust account
  3. VA H 2216 — This law, enacted February 23, changed the name of the Putative Father Registry to the Virginia Birth Father Registry and modifies certain registration and notice provisions associated with such registry; it also waives specified requirements or penalties for a man led to believe that the pregnancy was terminated or the mother miscarried and requires, upon discovery of the misrepresentation, the man to register with the Virginia Birth Father Registry within specified days
  4. VA S 815 — Enacted March 16, this law prioritizes debts owed for unpaid child support obligations over debts and taxes owed to other entities
  5. VA H 1586 — Enacted March 16, this law details the procedure for notifying a child’s school if a custody or visitation order has been made prohibiting a parent from picking the child up from school
  6. VA S 817 — Enacted March 24, the law allows a person whose license has been revoked or suspended for failure to pay child support to obtain a restricted license allowing them to travel to and from a job interview for which he or she maintains on his or her person written proof from the prospective employer of the date, time, and location of the job interview

When you call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or you contact us online, we will refrain from providing opinions about the Browns’ starting QB or Hue Jackson. We can, though, provide you with up-to-the-minute insights into Virginia family law, including some promising prospects for 2018 (hear that, Jimmy Haslam?).


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