Here's how bills stand after Jan. 26, in this order: (1) Passed one house (2) Approved by committee (3) Approved by subcommittee (4) Awaiting any committee or subcommittee action (5) Killed.
Passed House or Senate:
- (Just you wait ...)
- Tenancy by Entireties: Severing requires deed signed by both parties. This would be a huge change in how deeds are currently signed in divorces, and sounds like it would invalidate one-signature "Quitclaim" deeds signed before a divorce is final. [slightly amended but as deplorable as ever]
- Computer trespass definition expanded
- Let child support be paid to a special needs trust or ABLE account.
- Make more of minimum wage-earners' earnings garnishment-proof (but apparently only a technical correction to make one statute and court forms match another statute).
- Change the word "visitation" to "parenting time", but only as a discretionary option
- CPS/DSS activities involving servicemembers' children must be reported to military Family Advocacy representatives (Senate)
- Giving a minor a dirk, switchblade or bowie knife is OK if between family members or for a sporting event or activity.
- Home studies must conform to a standard "template"
- Make it easier for social services to remove children from home without making previous efforts to remedy conditions
- Give fiduciaries (including executors, guardians, or power-of-attorney holders) control over "digital property" -- such as files, domains, bitcoin -- but not necessarily personal communications/social media unless the owner has specified that in the document giving the fiduciary authority. Replaces the 2015 Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act with the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. [House]
- Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (Senate)
- Let certain charities and law firms be trustees of "self-settled spendthrift trusts" [amended]
- Clarify that a surviving spouse can claim an elective share and a homestead allowance. [Senate]
- Clarify that a surviving spouse can claim an elective share and a homestead allowance. [House]
- Uniform Trust Decanting Act, on moving assets from one trust into a second trust.
- Reduce probate fees
- Let exes bring post-divorce litigation back to the divorce court even if it had "remanded" jurisdiction to juvenile court.
- Service by publication electronically instead of in newspaper [amended]
- Demurrers: If sustained, amended pleading must incorporate or refer to earlier pleading
Approved by Committee:
- Firearms training for abuse victims [Committee approved unanimously, referred to finance committee]
- Clergy & religious institutions needn't celebrate marriages they disapprove of.[House version]
- Make all ex parte protective orders state the allegations they are based on, including in-court testimony as well as affidavits. (Ex parte means the defendant isn't at the hearing and gets no notification) [amended in committee 1/25/17]
- Malpractice suits for estate planning: No liability to non-clients without a contract intentionally creating it; clarify statutes of limitations and when they start running
- CPS must investigate all abuse/neglect reports/complaints about a child one year old or less. [substitute version passed two committees]
- Have estates pay child support arrears before paying local taxes, other debts, other claims [amended in committee 1/25/17]
- Substitute judges may sit in the same courts where they regularly practice
- Possessing firearms while under protective order a felony; grace period for selling or removing weapons from one's possession.
- Female circumcision/genital mutilation of minors: 20 years to life for doing it or for parent allowing it; fine up to $100,000; victim can sue. [Courts committee approved unanimously with substitute text; then referred to Finance Committee]
- Create Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program [Committee approved, referred to finance committee]
Approved by Subcommittee:
- Subpoenaing medical records: Many big changes incl. specifying format to produce them in, cap copying charges, 30 days to respond, fee award presumptions, etc. [amended]
- Let courts make alimony payors maintain life insurance for payees [amended]
- Require courts in custody or visitation cases to also consider any history of abuse of non-family members [substitute version approved]
- Have all custody orders sent to the children's schools. [substitute version approved]
- Blaze pink is just as good as blaze orange
- Let all government employees working overseas keep their Virginia residency and ability to get a Virginia divorce; not just servicemembers and foreign service officers.
- Increase fees to record paper deed if there's an electronic filing system.
No action yet by any committee or subcommittee:
- Ensure that clergy and religious institutions aren't required to celebrate marriages they disapprove of.[Senate version]
- Remove overturned same-sex marriage ban from state constitution [House version]
- Remove overturned same-sex marriage ban from state constitution [Senator Ebbin's version]
- Remove overturned same-sex marriage ban from state constitution [Senator Locke's version]
- End alimony at retirement, with a very few exceptions.
- Combat-related military disability benefits are not income when calculating spousal support.
- Child meeting with judge in custody case: Changes rules on parents or lawyers being present, transcribing the conversation, transcript availability to parents or lawyers.
- Crack down on "zero tolerance" suspensions; allow suspension only for certain dangerous offenses listed in statute
- CPS/DSS activities involving servicemembers' children must be reported to military Family Advocacy representatives (House)
- Adoption assistance for special needs kids: standards changed in several ways
- Putative Father Registry renamed "Birth Father Registry", notice and registration rules changed
- Foster parents must secure all firearms in the home
- Guardians ad litem in custody/visitation/parenting time cases must file certificate of compliance with GAL standards
- Criminal financial exploitation or physical abuse/neglect of people incapacitated mentally, physically, or by age.
- Adult exploitation: Broader and more detailed definitions for social services laws
- Suspected adult exploitation cases must be immediately reported to local police and in some cases, state police
Killed (by any of several methods: Defeated, recommended not reporting, recommended tabling, carried over to next year, passed by indefinitely):
- Repeal the already-overturned ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions from state statutes [Killed with explanatory letter by large majority, including leading liberals, in Courts Committee, 10-2]
- Judgment lien for spouse's medical care can't be enforced against tenants-by-entireties property unless the judgment was awarded against both spouses
- Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly let child under 5 use or handle a firearm.
- Make it harder to restrict custody or visitation due to parent's blindness
- No standing or procedural rights as a parent for anyone who conceived the child by sex prohibited under three different statutes: (1) rape (which also includes any sex with a child under 13 who is considered the "victim" or "complaining witness"), (2) incest (but only with one's child or grandchild), or (3) "carnal knowledge" (sex or any of several other sexual acts with anyone under 15, regardless of one's own age); criminal conviction not required if facts found under a "clear and convincing evidence" standard. Can't petition for anything, needn't be named as a party to child-related cases, nor asked for consent.
- Clarify that witness and document subpoenas can be enforceably served on Va. registered agents of out-of-state businesses, even if they are not parties in a case.
- Ensure process servers' access to homes in apartment buildings, gated communities, etc.
- Require public access to court case management systems/case records statewide.
- Require guardians ad litem to be appointed for any incapacitated party in a civil case. Current law only requires it for defendants. Bill would expand this to plaintiffs -- including divorce plaintiffs. But if the party has a lawyer, GAL appointment is not required, though it is still possible.
- Cap fees of court-appointed lawyers under Servicemembers Civil Relief Act at $125.00. Not per hour; per case!
- Have district court substitute judges appointed by the court's chief judge, not by the circuit courts.