Virginia 2023 Legislation Affecting Family Law and Family Life

By Alison Gedraitis and John Crouch

Our Virginia family law legislation blog posts aim to include not just family-law bills, but anything that affects how we practice family law -- such as evidence and procedure rules; wills, probate, etc., which are also part of our work, and anything that affects the families we typically work with and the choices they have to make in their cases, including some legislation about education, health care, child safety, and several other topics. 

APPROVED BY GOVERNOR:

Divorce

  • HB 1385 Divorce; affidavit submitted as evidence, minor children of the parties- Clarifies that an affidavit submitted as evidence in support of a divorce shall state whether there were minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other, or adopted by both parties.
  • HB 1583 It is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally cause an electronic device to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into or through a window, door, or other aperture of any building, structure, or other enclosure occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure, or enclosure is permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy is permanent or temporary, or to do the same, without just cause, upon property owned by him and leased or rented to another under circumstances that would violate the occupant's reasonable expectation of privacy. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a lawful criminal investigation. Under current law, such acts are prohibited only when the person causes the electronic device to enter the property of another. (As amended) (Cross-references: Procedure, Criminal Law) House subcommittee amendments and substitutes adopted

Marriage

  • HB 2071 Persons other than ministers who may perform rites of marriage; issuance of order, etc- Provides that a clerk may issue an order authorizing one or more persons resident in the circuit in which a petition was filed to celebrate the rites of marriage in the Commonwealth. (Current law only allows a circuit court judge to issue such an order)- Governor's recommendation

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 1581 Child custody, etc.; educational seminars approved by Office of Ex. Sec. of Supreme Court of Va- Provides that when the parties to any petition where a child whose custody, visitation, or support is contested are required show proof that they have attended an educational seminar or other like program conducted by a qualified person or organization.
  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Adoption, Child Abuse, Custody.)

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders/Harassment/Stalking

  • HB 1572 Emergency response; false information by device, penalty. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to maliciously advise or inform another over any other device by any means, or cause another to do the same, of the death of, accident to, injury to, illness of, or disappearance of some third party, or of the imminent threat to the safety of a person, that results in an emergency response, knowing the information to be false. The bill defines emergency response as a response by law-enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel to a situation where human life or property is in jeopardy and the prompt summoning of aid is essential. Current law only prohibits such false information to another by telephone. House subcommittee amendments and substitutes adopted.
  • HB 1590 Telephone, digital pager, or other device to signal; causing alert with intent to annoy, penalty. Modernizes the harassing phone call statute to include any communications that may ring or otherwise signal or alert. Under current law, only telephones and digital pagers are included.
  • HB 1961 Family abuse protective orders; relief available, password to electronic device- Granting the petitioner and, where appropriate, any other family or household member of the petitioner, exclusive use and possession of a cellular telephone number or electronic device and the password to such device.
  • SB 873 Family abuse protective orders; filing a petition on behalf of minors- For purposes of filing a petition for preliminary protective order in family abuse situation, attorney for the Commonwealth or a law-enforcement officer may file a petition on behalf of a minor as his next friend if petition is filed before a previously issued emergency protective order for the minor expires or within 24 hours of expiration. (Cross-reference: Child Abuse)

Judges

  • HB 2012 Retired Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges may be recalled in circuit courts.
  • SB 1031 Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission; exception to confidentiality: JIRC must promptly inform complainant of outcome.

Child Support

  • HB 2038 Health Insurance Coverage: state employees and incapacitated adult children: Incapacitated children will be included in a state employee's health insurance coverage, even if not living in employee's household, so long as the child is dependent upon the employee for more than half of the child's financial support, and is receiving residential support services. House committee amendments reported
  • HB 2290 Judgment or child support order; pregnancy and delivery expenses: Courts shall order the legal father (not including sperm donors) to pay 50% of the mother's unpaid pregnancy & delivery expenses, and 50% of mother's paid maternity leave (or bereavement leave for a nonviable pregnancy or stillbirth), UNLESS court orders differently for good cause shown. If a government program has paid the expenses, then the reimbursement shall be to the government. Two amendments pending: (1) recommended Jan. 24 and (2) recommended Jan. 25.
  • SB 1003 Health insurance; mandated coverage for hearing aids for minors.

Education

  • HB 1659 Students with disabilities; DBHDS, best practice standards, transition of records.
  • HB 1592 Public schools; codes of student conduct, policies and procedures prohibiting bullying- parents must be notified within 24 hours if bullying incident occurred
  • SB 1253 Student assessment results; availability to teachers, parents, principals, and other school leaders.
  • HB 1575 Public elementary/secondary schools; development of Safety While Accessing Tech. education program- Board of Education, law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, and other organizations involved with child online safety issues have to create a Safety While Accessing Technology (SWAT) to teach children about internet safety rules and how to recognize inappropriate/dangerous content and situations (Cross References- Child Abuse)
  • HB 1884 Students with disabilities; assessment frequency- permits students with disabilities to take Standards of Learning assessments or other alternative assessments on a less frequent basis
  • HB 1704 Public elementary and secondary schools; reports of certain arrests and convictions, etc- an employee in the local school division is appointed to receive all reports of arrest with a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor of a person employed by the local school division
  • HB 1629 Virginia Parent Data Portal; Board of Education to create and maintain, report.
  • HB 1822 Public school employees; offense involving solicitation of sexual molestation, etc- Provides that the convictions that bar employment and contract work that requires direct contact with students on school property during school hours or school-sponsored activities in public schools include any offense involving the solicitation of sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child.
  • HB 1550 Child abuse or neglect; findings of local department of social services, appeal- if a teacher is found to have committed child abuse or neglect, they can petition the circuit court for a de novo finding if they previously exhausted all options for review by the local department and Commissioner of Social Services (cross reference: Child Abuse)- Governor's recommendation

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • HB 1575 Public elementary/secondary schools; development of Safety While Accessing Tech. education program- Board of Education, law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, and other organizations involved with child online safety issues have to create a Safety While Accessing Technology (SWAT) to teach children about internet safety rules and how to recognize inappropriate/dangerous content and situations (Cross references- Education)
  • HB 1636 Child day program or family day system; for the purpose of the Class 4 felony prescribed for any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child younger than the age of 18 who by willful act or willful omission or refusal to provide any necessary care for the child's health causes or permits serious injury to the life or health of such child, the term "willful act or willful omission" includes operating or engaging in the conduct of a child day program or family day system without first obtaining a license such person knows is required by relevant law or after such license has been revoked or has expired and not been renewed. House subcommittee amendments and substitutes adopted
  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Adoption, Custody.)
  • HB 1704 Public elementary and secondary schools; reports of certain arrests and convictions, etc- an employee in the local school division is appointed to receive all reports of arrest with a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor of a person employed by the local school division
  • HB 1822 Public school employees; offense involving solicitation of sexual molestation, etc- Provides that the convictions that bar employment and contract work that requires direct contact with students on school property during school hours or school-sponsored activities in public schools include any offense involving the solicitation of sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child.
  • SB 873 Family abuse protective orders; filing a petition on behalf of minors- For purposes of filing a petition for preliminary protective order in family abuse situation, attorney for the Commonwealth or a law-enforcement officer may file a petition on behalf of a minor as his next friend if petition is filed before a previously issued emergency protective order for the minor expires or within 24 hours of expiration. (Cross-reference: Domestic Violence)
  • SB 1443 Parents Advocacy Commission; recommendations for establishing, report. "... work group to study the establishment of the Parents Advocacy Commission to provide training, qualification, and oversight for court-appointed counsel who represent parents in child dependency cases. The work group shall review, analyze, and make recommendations for possible models for the Parents Advocacy Commission's standards of practice and training and certification procedures, including the model currently implemented by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission for court-appointed counsel in criminal proceedings. The work group shall also study and make recommendations for the development of local or regional offices for the Parents Advocacy Commission. ..."
  • HB 1550 Child abuse or neglect; findings of local department of social services, appeal- if a teacher is found to have committed child abuse or neglect, they can petition the circuit court for a de novo finding if they previously exhausted all options for review by the local department and Commissioner of Social Services (cross-reference: Education)- Governor's recommendation

Mental Health

  • HB 1659 Students with disabilities; DBHDS, best practice standards, transition of records.
  • HB 1624 Mental health and rehabilitative services; military service members transitioning to civilian life- Adds military service members transitioning from military to civilian life to the list of persons supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services. (Cross-reference - Military)

Military Families

  • HB 2362 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. As amended, includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • SB 924 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • HB 1624 Mental health and rehabilitative services; military serv. members transitioning to civilian life- Adds military service members transitioning from military to civilian life to the list of persons supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services. (Cross-reference - Mental)
  • SJ 231 Const. amendment; prop. tax exemption for surviving spouses of soldiers who died in line of duty. (Cross-reference - Tax)

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 2362 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. As amended, includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Military)
  • SB 924 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries.  (Cross-reference- Military)
  • SB 1223 Vulnerable adults; financial exploitation, venue for trial.
  • HB 2128 Virginia Small Estate Act; funeral expenses and disposition, refusal to pay or deliver small asset- any person having possession of a small asset belonging to a decedent shall, upon presentation of an affidavit by the funeral service establishment handling the disposition of the decedent and any related funeral service, pay or deliver to such funeral service establishment so much of the small asset as does not exceed the amount given priority and has not already been paid.

Adoption

  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Child Abuse, Custody.)

Health

  • HB 2224 Newborn screening tests; fees prohibited- Required newborn screening tests shall be performed at no cost to parents, guardians, hospitals or health care providers. (Reported out of Health/Welfare subcommittee, BUT with recommendation to re-refer to Appropriations committee.

Abortion/Reproductive Technology

  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Adoption, Child Abuse, Custody.)

Criminal

  • HB 1892 Abduction of a minor; penalty changed from Class 2 to Class 5, but does not change penalties for child abduction by a parent.
  • HB 2398 Sexual extortion; penalties. Adds sexual extortion, defined in the bill as when an accused maliciously disseminates or sells, or threatens to maliciously disseminate or sell, a videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts the complaining witness or such complaining witness's family or household member who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, to the list of actions that, when used to accomplish certain acts against the will of another person, constitute rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, or sexual battery. (Cross-reference: Sexual Assault)

Attorneys

  • SB 817 Attorney fees; written notice of lien requirements, validity and amount determinations. Provides that written notice of a lien for attorney fees shall be given either within 45 days of the end of representation or (i) in causes of action sounding in tort or for liquidated or unliquidated damages on contract, before settlement or adjustment or (ii) in cases of annulment or divorce, before final judgment is entered, whichever is earlier 

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • HB 2398 Sexual extortion; penalties. Adds sexual extortion, defined in the bill as when an accused maliciously disseminates or sells, or threatens to maliciously disseminate or sell, a videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts the complaining witness or such complaining witness's family or household member who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, to the list of actions that, when used to accomplish certain acts against the will of another person, constitute rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, or sexual battery. (Cross-reference: Criminal)

Taxes

  • SJ 231 Const. amendment; prop. tax exemption for surviving spouses of soldiers who died in line of duty. (Cross-reference - Military)

PASSED BOTH HOUSES: 

Marriage

Divorce

 Judges

  • HB 2024 Judges and magistrates; harassing or coercing, doxxing, protecting personal information. Prohibits the state from publishing on the Internet the personal information of any active or retired federal or Virginia justice, judge, or magistrate. The bill adds active or retired federal or Virginia justices, judges, and magistrates to the list of people for which an enhanced punishment applies for the crime of using such person's identity with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass. The bill also adds active and retired magistrates to the list of people who may furnish a post office box address to be included in lieu of their street addresses on the lists of registered voters- Governor's recommendation

Custody/Parenting Time

Child Support

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders/Harassment/Stalking

Education

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • SJ 241 Child dependency case; Office of the Children's Ombudsman continuing to stud legal representation- Directs the Office of the Children's Ombudsman to continue its work group considering issues relating to the Commonwealth's model of court-appointed legal counsel in child dependency cases.

Mental Health

Military Families

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

Sexual Abuse/Assault

Adoption

Health

Abortion/Reproductive Technology

Criminal

Taxes

Attorneys

DEAD (BY VARIOUS METHODS AND EUPHEMISMS):

Marriage

  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - LGBT, Constitutional)
  • SB 1096 Marriage; lawful regardless of sex of parties-A marriage between two parties is lawful regardless of the sex of such parties, provided that such marriage is not otherwise prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth.

Divorce

  • HB 1720 Divorce; cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment- Eliminates the one-year waiting period for being decreed a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment by either party. 

Adoption

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 2091 Parental access to minor's medical records; consent by certain minors to treatment.
  • HB 2280 Surgical & medical trtmt. of certain minors; written parental consent, admission to mental health facility. (Cross-reference - Health)
  • HB 1711 Minor's medical records; prohibits denial of parental access to records.
  • SB 1214 Child abuse and neglect; custody and visitation, possession or use of marijuana- A child shall not be considered abused or neglected, and no person should be denied custody or visitation on the sole factor that the child's parent or guardian possessed or consumed marijuana in accordance with applicable law. (Cross reference - Child Abuse)
  • HB 2432 -self-identification as gender other than biological sex, parental contact. (Cross references- Education, incorporated HB 1707)

Child Support

  • HB 1549 Wrongful death; death of parent or guardian of child resulting from driving under the influence- If a defendant unintentionally causes the death of a parent or guardian of a child as a result of driving /operating a watercraft under the influence, the person who has custody of the child may petition the court to order the defendant to pay child support!
  • SB 1327 Comprehensive children's health care coverage program; DMAS shall establish.

Spousal Support

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

  • HB 2079 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction, second offense sentence- Upon conviction for assault and battery against family or a household member where such person was previously convicted of a violent offense relating to domestic or other malicious intent in the past 10 years, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days of confinement.
  • HB 1613 False emergency communication to emergency personnel; penalties, report.
  • HB 2079 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction, second offense sentence.

Retirement

  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.

Procedure

  • HB 1880 Localities; record of legal settlement or judgment, disclosure of records.
  • HB 1386 Interlocutory decrees or orders. Prohibits the appeal of certain interlocutory decrees or orders relating to affirmance or annulment of a marriage, divorce, custody, spousal or child support, control or disposition of a minor child, or any other domestic relations matter. The bill also restores the Court of Appeal's jurisdiction over appeals of orders granting or denying pleas of immunity. Under current law, such orders are appealable to the Supreme Court. The bill requires the Virginia Family Law Coalition to study appeals of interlocutory decrees and orders involving domestic relations matters in the Commonwealth and to report. House committee amendments reported
  • HB 1432 Trespass; service of process. Provides immunity from criminal trespass for any person who goes on or remains on the property of another after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by or at the direction of a person lawfully in charge of such property, provided that the person going on or remaining on the property is authorized to serve process and is engaged in the lawful service of process.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws!!!! (Cross-references: Abortion, Constitutional, Criminal)

Elder law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 1565 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. Includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)

Military Families

  • HB 1460 Income tax, state; subtraction for low-income mil. veteran w/permanent service-connected disability.
  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.
  • HB 2152 Higher educational institutions, public; in-state tuition, children of active duty service members - shortened residency requirements.
  • SB 1462 Income tax, state; military benefits subtraction, age restriction.
  • HB 2076 Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, broadens eligibility.(Cross-reference - Military)
  • HB 1565 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. Includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • SB 1032 Disabled veterans & surviving spouses of certain military; state subsidy of property tax exemptions. (Cross-reference - Tax)
  • HB 2246 (incorporating former HB 1868). Unremarried surviving spouses of veterans who'd be eligible for special license plates for certain types military service shall likewise be eligible for them.
  • HB 1436 Income tax; military benefits subtraction; age restriction. Removes the age 55 or older restriction on those individuals allowed a military benefits income tax subtraction beginning with taxable year 2023

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • SB 902 Attorney General; instituting or conducting criminal prosecutions- Authorizes the Attorney General to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in cases involving a violation of criminal sexual assault or commercial sex trafficking when such crimes are committed against children.
  • SB 921 Sex offenses; prohibiting proximity to children and school property, penalty.
  • HB 2475 Sexual battery; an accused who was a member of clergy, penalty.
  • HB 2097 Sexual assault survivors; administration of emergency contraception by health care providers
  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to juveniles. Incorporates SB 837 (Cross references: LGBT)

Child Abuse/Neglect/Foster Care/Child Safety/CHINS

  • SB 902 Attorney General; instituting or conducting criminal prosecutions- Authorizes the Attorney General to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in cases involving a violation of criminal sexual assault or commercial sex trafficking when such crimes are committed against children.
  • HB 1708 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans of materials deemed harmful.
  • SB 921 Sex offenses; prohibiting proximity to children and school property, penalty.
  • HB 2141 Owners of firearms; use of firearm by minor in commission of crime or to cause bodily injury.
  • HB 2291 Infants left in newborn safety devices or hospital personnel, etc.; placement protocol.
  • HB 2227 Civil action against parent; minor's possession and use of firearm.
  • HB 1786 Child abuse or neglect; definition, independent activities.
  • HB 2421 Firearm, stun weapon, or other weapon on school property; limits prohibition on possession.
  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to juveniles. Incorporates SB 837 (Cross references: LGBT, Sex Abuse)
  • SB 1392,   Wide-ranging "assault firearms" ban including absolute ban on anyone under 21 doing anything with them. Not as extreme as most "assault weapons" bans, because most of it uses the definition already in Virginia law, "equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds ... or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock."  However, it inserts a much wider definition in a section that bans any sale of "assault firearms," although that section is deceptively titled "§ 18.2-308.2:2. Criminal history record information check required for the transfer of certain firearms." That section starts by saying that dealers can only sell "assault firearms" to people 21 or older, but further down, it bans dealers from selling "any assault firearm to any person."
     The existing text of the statute follows the term "any person" with  "who is not a citizen of the United States or who is not a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence." But the proposed bill makes the phrase "any person" absolute, by inserting the word "or" after it. The new wording of the statute would, then, say, "no dealer shall sell, rent, trade, or transfer from his inventory any assault firearm to any person or any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or is equipped with a folding stock to any person who is not a citizen of the United States or who is not a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence." [New language in italics.]  Incorporates SB 918, SB 1283. Currently-live version, discussed here, is a substitute bill.
  • HB 1688 Consumer Data Protection Act; protections for children- Requires an operator, defined in the bill, to obtain verifiable parental consent prior to registering any child with the operator's product or service or before collecting, using, or disclosing such child's personal data and prohibits a controller from knowingly processing the personal data of a child for purposes of (i) targeted advertising, (ii) the sale of such personal data, or (iii) profiling in furtherance of decisions that produce legal or similarly significant effects concerning a consumer. The bill also amends the definition of child for purposes of the Consumer Data Protection Act to include any natural person younger than 18 years of age.
  • HB 2018 Children's Services Act; information sharing, confidentiality exception- Family assessment and planning teams (FAPT) and community policy and management teams (CPMT) can share information with local law enforcement or threat assessment teams established by local school boards if a FAPT or CPMT obtains information from which the team determines that a child poses a threat of violence or physical harm to himself or others.
  • SB 1214 Child abuse and neglect; custody and visitation, possession or use of marijuana- A child shall not be considered abused or neglected, and no person should be denied custody or visitation on the sole factor that the child's parent or guardian possessed or consumed marijuana in accordance with applicable law. (Cross reference - Custody)
  • HB 2129 Child victims and witnesses; using two-way closed-circuit television, expands age range and eases requirements.

Education

  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.
  • HB 2152 Higher educational institutions, public; in-state tuition, children of active duty service members - shortened residency requirements.
  • SB 920 School protection officers; employment in public schools.
  • HB 2425 Higher educational institutions; information about institutional debt, report, civil penalty- Certain higher education institutes in the Commonwealth will be required to report to the Secretary of Education on January 1st of each calendar year with certain documents and information about current and former students who have educational debts to said institutions.
  • HB 2076 Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, broadens eligibility.(Cross-reference - Military)
  • HB 1454 Home instruction; removes certain criteria for parents.
  • HB 1666 Public schools; unscheduled remote learning days- unscheduled remote learning days due to weather or other emergency situations are mandatory
  • HB 1903 School boards; online portal for parents to access content in school libraries.
  • HB 1938 Public schools; school counselors with training or experience in mental health, staffing ratios- Requires each school board to employ, in addition to the school counselors that it employs as otherwise required by law, at least one full-time school counselor with specialized training or experience in mental health per 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.
  • HB 2145 Standards of Learning assessments; English language learner students, parental opt out- Requires each local school board to ensure that the parent of each English language learner student is notified of the option to not have his child take any Standards of Learning assessment.
  • HB 2170 Public school pupil participation on certain teams and in certain clubs; parental consent.
  • HB 1397 Student immunization requirements; parental opt-out.
  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Mental, Constitutional)
  • HB 2236 Secured Schools Program and Fund; established.
  • HB 2276 COVID; immunization of children-parents shall not be required to immunize their children against COVID-19
  • SB 823 Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts; established, report.
  • SB 1290 School Choice Educational Savings Accounts; permits parents of qualified students to apply- Permits the parents of qualified students to apply to the local school division in which the qualified student resides for a one-year, renewable School Choice Educational Savings Account that consists of a monetary amount that is equivalent to a certain percentage of all applicable annual Standards of Quality per pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the resident school division in which the qualified student resides.
  • HB 1507 Public elementary and secondary schools; fundamental right of parents.
  • HB 1803 Public elementary and secondary schools; certain opportunities for parental involvement- parents can electronically review relevant curricula, classroom materials, and textbooks, review list of each book in school library catalog and books that contain sexually explicit content, receive notification of and opt their child out of government-run/authorized data collection program, or receive notification and opt child out of speech, presentation, or performance
  • HB 2432 -self-identification as gender other than biological sex, parental contact. (Cross references- Custody /Parenting Time and LGBT, incorporated HB 1707)
  • SB 818 Public elementary and secondary schools to teach mental health education. (Cross-reference - Mental)

Health

  • HB 2091 Parental access to minor's medical records; consent by certain minors to treatment.
  • HB 1819 Amendment of death certificates; county and city registrars.
  • HB 2280 Surgical & medical trtmt. of certain minors; written parental consent, admission to mental health facility. (Cross-reference - Custody)
  • HB 2276 COVID; immunization of children-parents shall not be required to immunize their children against COVID-19
  • SB 1203 Children Deserve Help Not Harm Act established, health benefit plans, etc.
  • SB 1101 Paid family and medical leave program; Virginia Employment Commission required to establish.
  • SB 1327 Comprehensive children's health care coverage program; DMAS shall establish.

Mental Health

  • HB 1923 Minors; admission to mental health facility for inpatient treatment. Would have changed standards based on consent, age, and addiction.
  • HB 1938 Public schools; school counselors with training or experience in mental health, staffing ratios- Requires each school board to employ, in addition to the school counselors that it employs as otherwise required by law, at least one full-time school counselor with specialized training or experience in mental health per 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.
  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Constitutional, Education)
  • HB 2074 Assault and battery; persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, not subject to mandatory minimum sentences if condition related to their actions.
  • SB 818 Public elementary and secondary schools to teach mental health education. (Cross-reference - Education)
  • SB 1272 Assault and battery; persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, not subject to mandatory minimum sentences if condition related to their actions.
  • HB 1389 Mental illness or emotional disturbance; administration of controlled substances for treatment, etc.-Provides that a minor shall not be deemed an adult for the purpose of consenting to administration of controlled substances for the treatment of mental illness or emotional disturbance.

Abortion / Reproductive Technology

  • SB 1284 Abortion; prohibited, exceptions, penalty.
  • SB 1483 Abortion; viability, treatment of nonviable pregnancy.
  • HB 2357 Surrogacy; relinquishment of parental rights- surrogate may relinquish parental rights to at least one intended parent before birth.
  • HB 1488 Abortion; use of public funds prohibited.
  • HJ 519 Constitutional amendment; fundamental right to reproductive freedom (first reference)-Provides that every individual has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom and that the right to make and effectuate one's own decisions about all matters related to one's pregnancy cannot be denied, burdened, or otherwise infringed upon by the Commonwealth, unless justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means.
  • HB 1395 Rights beginning at conception; definitions, etc.
  • HB 2270 Abortion; right to informed consent, penalties. Requires physicians and authorized nurse practitioners to follow certain procedures and processes to effect a pregnant woman's informed written consent prior to the performance of an abortion and imposes civil and criminal penalties for violations of certain provisions.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws.  (Cross-references:  Constitutional, Procedure, Criminal)
  • HB 1795 Abortion; born alive infant, treatment and care, penalty. 

LGBT

  • HJ 460 Constitutional amendment; repeal of same-sex marriage prohibition (first reference)- Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015).
  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - Marriage, Constitutional)
  • SB 1203 Children Deserve Help Not Harm Act established, health benefit plans, etc.
  • HB 2432 -self-identification as gender other than biological sex, parental contact. (Cross references- Custody /Parenting Time and Education, incorporated HB 1707)
  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to juveniles. Incorporates SB 837 (Cross references: Sexual Abuse/Assault)

Constitutional

  • HJ 531 Constitutional amendment; exemption for certain personal property tax. Makes scouting units' (i.e., troops, packs, crews, ships, posts) property exempt from local property taxes even if it's formally owned by a nonprofit group that sponsors or supports the scout unit. I wrote this one. The first draft, that is. Because Arlington's charging my kids' troop over $3,000 in vehicle tax and (!!!???)  "business property tax."  I'm trying to get people who are supportive of scouting, or of me and my family, to email their legislators and to spread the word about it. Info and background at http://bit.ly/vantax. (Cross-reference - Taxes)
  • HJ 505 Constitutional amendment; rights of parents (first reference)- Provides that parents have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children and that the Commonwealth shall not infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest is of the highest order and not otherwise served.
  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Mental, Education)
  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - Marriage, LGBT)
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws. (Cross-references: Abortion, Procedure, Criminal)

Criminal

  • HB 2288 "Assault" firearms; age 21 requirement for purchase, penalty.
  • HB 2051 Custodial interrogations; false statements to a child prohibited, inauthentic replica documents.
  • HB 2066 Custodial interrogation of a child; statement of leniency.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws. (Cross-references: Abortion, Constitutional, Procedure)

Real Estate

Judges

  • SB 1517 Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission; removes confidentiality of papers and proceedings if judge is suspended or appeals, but identity of anyone else involved in the case shall be protected.
  • HB 2015 Unlawful picketing or parading to obstruct or influence justice; penalty.
  • SB 843 Retired circuit court and district court judges; evaluation required before they can be recalled to try cases.

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

  • SB 1494 Disciplining attorneys and reinstatement of attorneys; procedure by three-judge circuit court may be demanded by former attorney seeking reinstatement; appeal is to three-judge panel of Ct. of Appeals instead of Supreme Ct.

Taxes

  • SB 908 Stillborn child; tax credit for loss.
  • HJ 531 Constitutional amendment; exemption for certain personal property tax. Makes scouting units' (i.e., troops, packs, crews, ships, posts) property exempt from local property taxes even if it's formally owned by a nonprofit group that sponsors or supports the scout unit. I wrote this one. The first draft, that is. Because Arlington's charging my kids' troop over $3,000 in vehicle tax and (!!!???) "business property tax." I'm trying to get people who are supportive of scouting, or of me and my family, to email their legislators and to spread the word about it. Info and background at http://bit.ly/vantax. (Cross-reference - Constitutional)
  • SB 1529 Right to life; tax credit for each birth of a dependent member of a taxpayer's household-Allows a refundable income tax credit of $250 for each birth of a dependent member of a taxpayer's household that occurs in taxable years 2023 through 2027 (only available to families with annual household income that does not exceed 400 percent of current poverty guidelines and is subject to aggregate cap of $25 million per taxable year).
  • SB 1032 Disabled veterans & surviving spouses of certain military; state subsidy of property tax exemptions. (Cross-reference - Military)

Paternity

  • HB 2259 Paternity; genetic tests to determine parentage, relief from paternity, certain actions, penalty- Provides that any person who knowingly gives any false information or makes any false statements for the purpose of determining paternity is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constitutional

Divorce

Paternity

Procedure

Judges

Custody/Parenting Time

Child Support

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders/Harassment/Stalking

Marriage

Education

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

Mental Health

Military Families

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

Sexual Abuse/Assault

LGBT Issues

Adoption

Health

Abortion/Reproductive Technology

Criminal

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

Taxes


Family Law Bills Racing Through 2023 Virginia Gen'l Assembly

By Alison Gedraitis and John Crouch

Our Virginia family law legislation blog posts always cut a wide swath -- not just  family-law bills, but anything that affects how we practice family law -- such as evidence and procedure rules; wills, probate, etc., which are also part of our work, and anything that affects the families we typically work with and the choices they have to make in their cases, including some legislation about education, health care, child safety, and several other topics.

But as fast as Alison -- from American University and St. Norbert -- moves, the legislators have been moving even faster, since they are doing this full-time this season, while she's also working for our clients and going to college. So I'm posting what we have added so far, including the core areas of family law and only some of the outlying subjects. More soon.

APPROVED BY GOVERNOR: None yet.

PASSED BOTH HOUSES: None yet.

PASSED ONE HOUSE, ON FLOOR OF THE OTHER: None yet.

PASSED ONE HOUSE, IN FULL COMMITTEE OF THE OTHER: None yet.

PASSED ONE HOUSE:

Divorce

  • HB 1385 Divorce; affidavit submitted as evidence, minor children of the parties- Clarifies that an affidavit submitted as evidence in support of a divorce shall state whether there were minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other, or adopted by both parties.

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 1581 Child custody, etc.; educational seminars approved by Office of Ex. Sec. of Supreme Court of Va- Provides that when the parties to any petition where a child whose custody, visitation, or support is contested are required show proof that they have attended an educational seminar or other like program conducted by a qualified person or organization.

Child Support

  • HB 1549 Wrongful death; death of parent or guardian of child resulting from driving under the influence- If a defendant unintentionally causes the death of a parent or guardian of a child as a result of driving /operating a watercraft under the influence, the person who has custody of the child may petition the court to order the defendant to pay child support!

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders/Harassment/Stalking

  • SB 873 Family abuse protective orders; filing a petition on behalf of minors- For purposes of filing a petition for preliminary protective order in family abuse situation, attorney for the Commonwealth or a law-enforcement officer may file a petition on behalf of a minor as his next friend if petition is filed before a previously issued emergency protective order for the minor expires or within 24 hours of expiration. (Cross-reference: Child Abuse)
  • HB 1590 Telephone, digital pager, or other device to signal; causing alert with intent to annoy, penalty. Modernizes the harassing phone call statute to include any communications that may ring or otherwise signal or alert. Under current law, only telephones and digital pagers are included.

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • SB 873 Family abuse protective orders; filing a petition on behalf of minors- For purposes of filing a petition for preliminary protective order in family abuse situation, attorney for the Commonwealth or a law-enforcement officer may file a petition on behalf of a minor as his next friend if petition is filed before a previously issued emergency protective order for the minor expires or within 24 hours of expiration. (Cross-reference: Domestic Violence)

Marriage

  • HB 2071 Persons other than ministers who may perform rites of marriage; issuance of order, etc- Provides that a clerk may issue an order authorizing one or more persons resident in the circuit in which a petition was filed to celebrate the rites of marriage in the Commonwealth. (Current law only allows a circuit court judge to issue such an order)
  • SB 1096 Marriage; lawful regardless of sex of parties-A marriage between two parties is lawful regardless of the sex of such parties, provided that such marriage is not otherwise prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth.

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to juveniles. Incorporates SB 837 (Cross references: LGBT, Sex Abuse)

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to juveniles. Incorporates SB 837  (Cross references: LGBT, Child Abuse)

LGBT

  • SB 835 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans. Makes definition of "sexual conduct" neutral regarding sexual orientation for the purposes of crimes related to prohibited sales and loans to Child Abuse, Sex Abuse) juveniles. Incorporates SB 837  (Cross references: Child Abuse, Sex Abuse)

Judges

  • HB 2012 Retired Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges may be recalled in circuit courts.

Education

  • HB 1629 Virginia Parent Data Portal; Board of Education to create and maintain, report.

OUT OF COMMITTEE / ON FLOOR IN ONE HOUSE:

Custody/Parenting Time

Child Support

Spousal Support

Marriage

Divorce

  • HB 1583 It is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally cause an electronic device to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into or through a window, door, or other aperture of any building, structure, or other enclosure occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure, or enclosure is permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy is permanent or temporary, or to do the same, without just cause, upon property owned by him and leased or rented to another under circumstances that would violate the occupant's reasonable expectation of privacy. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a lawful criminal investigation. Under current law, such acts are prohibited only when the person causes the electronic device to enter the property of another. (As amended) (Cross-references: Procedure, Criminal Law)

Adoption

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • SB 1392,   Wide-ranging "assault firearms" ban including absolute ban on anyone under 21 doing anything with them. Not as extreme as most "assault weapons" bans, because most of it uses the definition already in Virginia law, "equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds ... or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock."  However, it inserts a much wider definition in a section that bans any sale of "assault firearms," although that section is deceptively titled "§ 18.2-308.2:2. Criminal history record information check required for the transfer of certain firearms." That section starts by saying that dealers can only sell "assault firearms" to people 21 or older, but further down, it bans dealers from selling "any assault firearm to any person."
     The existing text of the statute follows the term "any person" with  "who is not a citizen of the United States or who is not a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence." But the proposed bill makes the phrase "any person" absolute, by inserting the word "or" after it. The new wording of the statute would, then, say, "no dealer shall sell, rent, trade, or transfer from his inventory any assault firearm to any person or any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or is equipped with a folding stock to any person who is not a citizen of the United States or who is not a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence." [New language in italics.]  Incorporates SB 918, SB 1283. Currently-live version, discussed here, is a substitute bill. 

Sexual Abuse/Assault

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

Retirement

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

Procedure

  • HB 1386 Interlocutory decrees or orders. Prohibits the appeal of certain interlocutory decrees or orders relating to affirmance or annulment of a marriage, divorce, custody, spousal or child support, control or disposition of a minor child, or any other domestic relations matter. The bill also restores the Court of Appeal's jurisdiction over appeals of orders granting or denying pleas of immunity. Under current law, such orders are appealable to the Supreme Court. The bill requires the Virginia Family Law Coalition to study appeals of interlocutory decrees and orders involving domestic relations matters in the Commonwealth and to report.

Health

LGBT Issues

Education

  • HB 1659 Students with disabilities; DBHDS, best practice standards, transition of records.

Mental Health

  • HB 1659 Students with disabilities; DBHDS, best practice standards, transition of records.

Military Families

  • HB 1436 Income tax; military benefits subtraction; age restriction. Removes the age 55 or older restriction on those individuals allowed a military benefits income tax subtraction beginning with taxable year 2023
  • HB 2362 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. As amended, includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • SB 924 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • HB 2246 (incorporating former HB 1868). Unremarried surviving spouses of veterans who'd be eligible for special license plates for certain types military service shall likewise be eligible for them. 

Elder law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 2362 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. As amended, includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Military)
  • SB 924 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries.  (Cross-reference-Military)

Abortion / Reproductive Technology

Constitutional

Criminal

  • HB 1583 It is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally cause an electronic device to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into or through a window, door, or other aperture of any building, structure, or other enclosure occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure, or enclosure is permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy is permanent or temporary, or to do the same, without just cause, upon property owned by him and leased or rented to another under circumstances that would violate the occupant's reasonable expectation of privacy. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a lawful criminal investigation. Under current law, such acts are prohibited only when the person causes the electronic device to enter the property of another. (As amended) (Cross-references: Procedure, Divorce)

Real Estate

Judges

  • HB 2015 Unlawful picketing or parading to obstruct or influence justice; penalty.
  • SB 843 Retired circuit court and district court judges; evaluation required before they can be recalled to try cases.

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

IN FULL COMMITTEE IN ONE HOUSE:

Custody/Parenting Time

Paternity

Spousal support

Child Support

  • HB 2038 Health Insurance Coverage: state employees and incapacitated adult children: Incapacitated children will be included in a state employee's health insurance coverage, even if not living in employee's household, so long as the child is dependent upon the employee for more than half of the child's financial support, and is receiving residential support services.

Marriage

Divorce

Adoption

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety

  • HB 1636 Child day program or family day system; for the purpose of the Class 4 felony prescribed for any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child younger than the age of 18 who by willful act or willful omission or refusal to provide any necessary care for the child's health causes or permits serious injury to the life or health of such child, the term "willful act or willful omission" includes operating or engaging in the conduct of a child day program or family day system without first obtaining a license such person knows is required by relevant law or after such license has been revoked or has expired and not been renewed.

Sexual Abuse/Assault

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

  • HB 1572 Emergency response; false information by device, penalty. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to maliciously advise or inform another over any other device by any means, or cause another to do the same, of the death of, accident to, injury to, illness of, or disappearance of some third party, or of the imminent threat to the safety of a person, that results in an emergency response, knowing the information to be false. The bill defines emergency response as a response by law-enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel to a situation where human life or property is in jeopardy and the prompt summoning of aid is essential. Current law only prohibits such false information to another by telephone. House subcommittee amendments and substitutes adopted.

Procedure

Education

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

Retirement

Health

LGBT Issues

Mental Health

  • HB 1624 Mental health and rehabilitative services; military service members transitioning to civilian life- Adds military service members transitioning from military to civilian life to the list of persons supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services. (Cross-reference - Military)

Military Families

  • HB 1624 Mental health and rehabilitative services; military serv. members transitioning to civilian life- Adds military service members transitioning from military to civilian life to the list of persons supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services. (Cross-reference - Mental)

Abortion / Reproductive Technology

Constitutional

Criminal

Real Estate

Judges

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

IN SUBCOMMITTEE IN ONE HOUSE:

Constitutional Law

  • HJ 531 Constitutional amendment; exemption for certain personal property tax. Makes scouting units' (i.e., troops, packs, crews, ships, posts) property exempt from local property taxes even if it's formally owned by a nonprofit group that sponsors or supports the scout unit. I wrote this one. The first draft, that is. Because Arlington's charging my kids' troop over $3,000 in vehicle tax and (!!!???)  "business property tax."  I'm trying to get people who are supportive of scouting, or of me and my family, to email their legislators and to spread the word about it. Info and background at http://bit.ly/vantax. (Cross-reference - Taxes)
  • HJ 505 Constitutional amendment; rights of parents (first reference)- Provides that parents have the right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children and that the Commonwealth shall not infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest is of the highest order and not otherwise served.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws. (Cross-references: Abortion, Procedure, Criminal)
  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Mental, Education)
  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - Marriage, LGBT)

Marriage

  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - LGBT, Constitutional)

Divorce

Adoption

  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Child Abuse, Custody.)

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 2280 Surgical & medical trtmt. of certain minors; written parental consent, admission to mental health facility. (Cross-reference - Health)
  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Adoption, Child Abuse, Custody.)
  • SB 1214 Child abuse and neglect; custody and visitation, possession or use of marijuana- A child shall not be considered abused or neglected, and no person should be denied custody or visitation on the sole factor that the child's parent or guardian possessed or consumed marijuana in accordance with applicable law. (Cross reference - Child Abuse)

Paternity

  • HB 2259 Paternity; genetic tests to determine parentage, relief from paternity, certain actions, penalty- Provides that any person who knowingly gives any false information or makes any false statements for the purpose of determining paternity is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Child Support

  • HB 2290 Judgment or child support order; pregnancy and delivery expenses: Courts shall order the legal father (not including sperm donors) to pay 50% of the mother's unpaid pregnancy & delivery expenses, and 50% of mother's paid maternity leave (or bereavement leave for a nonviable pregnancy or stillbirth), UNLESS court orders differently for good cause shown. If a government program has paid the expenses, then the reimbursement shall be to the government. Two amendments pending: (1) recommended Jan. 24 and (2) recommended Jan. 25.

Spousal Support

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

  • HB 1961 Family abuse protective orders; relief available, password to electronic device- Granting the petitioner and, where appropriate, any other family or household member of the petitioner, exclusive use and possession of a cellular telephone number or electronic device and the password to such device.

Procedure

  • HB 1432 Trespass; service of process. Provides immunity from criminal trespass for any person who goes on or remains on the property of another after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by or at the direction of a person lawfully in charge of such property, provided that the person going on or remaining on the property is authorized to serve process and is engaged in the lawful service of process.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws!!!! (Cross-references: Abortion, Constitutional, Criminal)

Education

  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Mental, Constitutional)
  • HB 2425 Higher educational institutions; information about institutional debt, report, civil penalty- Certain higher education institutes in the Commonwealth will be required to report to the Secretary of Education on January 1st of each calendar year with certain documents and information about current and former students who have educational debts to said institutions.
  • HB 2076 Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, broadens eligibility.(Cross-reference - Military)
  • SB 818 Public elementary and secondary schools to teach mental health education. (Cross-reference - Mental)
  • HB 2236 Secured Schools Program and Fund; established.

Health

  • HB 2224 Newborn screening tests; fees prohibited- Required newborn screening tests shall be performed at no cost to parents, guardians, hospitals or health care providers. (Reported out of Health/Welfare subcommittee, BUT with recommendation to re-refer to Appropriations committee.
  • HB 2280 Surgical & medical trtmt. of certain minors; written parental consent, admission to mental health facility. (Cross-reference - Custody)
  • SB 1101 Paid family and medical leave program; Virginia Employment Commission required to establish.

Retirement

Mental Health

  • HJ 509 Constitutional amendment; public schools of high quality-Provides that each child attending public school has a right to access a school-based mental health professional licensed by the Commonwealth as a licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor, including the right to choose a mental health professional who will not utilize applied behavioral analysis. (Cross-references - Constitutional, Education)
  • SB 818 Public elementary and secondary schools to teach mental health education. (Cross-reference - Education)
  • HB 2074 Assault and battery; persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, not subject to mandatory minimum sentences if condition related to their actions.
  • SB 1272 Assault and battery; persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, not subject to mandatory minimum sentences if condition related to their actions.

Military Families

  • HB 2076 Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, broadens eligibility.(Cross-reference - Education)
  • HB 1565 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. Includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Elder/Probate)
  • SB 1032 Disabled veterans & surviving spouses of certain military; state subsidy of property tax exemptions. (Cross-reference - Tax)
  • SJ 231 Const. amendment; prop. tax exemption for surviving spouses of soldiers who died in line of duty. (Cross-reference - Tax)

Elder law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 1565 Military spouses; state shall pay fees charged for their burial at state-operated veterans' cemeteries. Includes National Guard and Reserves.  (Cross-reference- Military)
  • SB 1223 Vulnerable adults; financial exploitation, venue for trial.

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • HB 2398 Sexual extortion; penalties. Adds sexual extortion, defined in the bill as when an accused maliciously disseminates or sells, or threatens to maliciously disseminate or sell, a videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts the complaining witness or such complaining witness's family or household member who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, to the list of actions that, when used to accomplish certain acts against the will of another person, constitute rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, or sexual battery. (Cross-reference: Sexual Assault)

Child Abuse/Neglect/CHINS/Foster Care/Child Safety/Firearms

  • HB 2018 Children's Services Act; information sharing, confidentiality exception- Family assessment and planning teams (FAPT) and community policy and management teams (CPMT) can share information with local law enforcement or threat assessment teams established by local school boards if a FAPT or CPMT obtains information from which the team determines that a child poses a threat of violence or physical harm to himself or others.
  • HB 2129 Child victims and witnesses; using two-way closed-circuit television, expands age range and eases requirements.
  • SJ 241 Child dependency case; Office of the Children's Ombudsman continuing to stud legal representation- Directs the Office of the Children's Ombudsman to continue its work group considering issues relating to the Commonwealth's model of court-appointed legal counsel in child dependency cases.
  • SB 1214 Child abuse and neglect; custody and visitation, possession or use of marijuana- A child shall not be considered abused or neglected, and no person should be denied custody or visitation on the sole factor that the child's parent or guardian possessed or consumed marijuana in accordance with applicable law. (Cross reference - Custody)
  • SB 1443 Parents Advocacy Commission; recommendations for establishing, report. "... work group to study the establishment of the Parents Advocacy Commission to provide training, qualification, and oversight for court-appointed counsel who represent parents in child dependency cases. The work group shall review, analyze, and make recommendations for possible models for the Parents Advocacy Commission's standards of practice and training and certification procedures, including the model currently implemented by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission for court-appointed counsel in criminal proceedings. The work group shall also study and make recommendations for the development of local or regional offices for the Parents Advocacy Commission. ..."
  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Abortion/Reproductive, Adoption, Custody.)
  • HB 2141 Owners of firearms; use of firearm by minor in commission of crime or to cause bodily injury.
  • HB 2421 Firearm, stun weapon, or other weapon on school property; limits prohibition on possession.

Abortion / Reproductive Technology

  • HB 2357 Surrogacy; relinquishment of parental rights- surrogate may relinquish parental rights to at least one intended parent before birth.
  • HB 1699 Minors; buying or selling a minor is a Class 5 Felony. Includes giving or receiving, requesting or offering, money or valuable things in exchange for custody or control of a minor. Exceptions for a surrogacy contract or seeking to adopt or place child for adoption pursuant to relevant law. (Cross references: Adoption, Child Abuse, Custody.)
  • HB 1488 Abortion; use of public funds prohibited.
  • HB 2270 Abortion; right to informed consent, penalties. Requires physicians and authorized nurse practitioners to follow certain procedures and processes to effect a pregnant woman's informed written consent prior to the performance of an abortion and imposes civil and criminal penalties for violations of certain provisions.
  • HJ 519 Constitutional amendment; fundamental right to reproductive freedom (first reference)-Provides that every individual has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom and that the right to make and effectuate one's own decisions about all matters related to one's pregnancy cannot be denied, burdened, or otherwise infringed upon by the Commonwealth, unless justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means.
  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws.  (Cross-references:  Constitutional, Procedure, Criminal)
  • HB 1395 Rights beginning at conception; definitions, etc.

LGBT Issues

  • HJ 460 Constitutional amendment; repeal of same-sex marriage prohibition (first reference)- Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015).
  • HJ 553 Constitutional amendment; marriage between two individuals. Affirmative right to marry. Repeals the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses between two individuals, recognize marriages between two individuals, and treat all marriages between two individuals equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. The amendment provides that religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.(Cross-references - Marriage, Constitutional)

Taxes

  • SB 1529 Right to life; tax credit for each birth of a dependent member of a taxpayer's household-Allows a refundable income tax credit of $250 for each birth of a dependent member of a taxpayer's household that occurs in taxable years 2023 through 2027 (only available to families with annual household income that does not exceed 400 percent of current poverty guidelines and is subject to aggregate cap of $25 million per taxable year).
  • HJ 531 Constitutional amendment; exemption for certain personal property tax. Makes scouting units' (i.e., troops, packs, crews, ships, posts) property exempt from local property taxes even if it's formally owned by a nonprofit group that sponsors or supports the scout unit. I wrote this one. The first draft, that is. Because Arlington's charging my kids' troop over $3,000 in vehicle tax and (!!!???) "business property tax." I'm trying to get people who are supportive of scouting, or of me and my family, to email their legislators and to spread the word about it. Info and background at http://bit.ly/vantax. (Cross-reference - Constitutional)
  • SB 1032 Disabled veterans & surviving spouses of certain military; state subsidy of property tax exemptions. (Cross-reference - Military)
  • SJ 231 Const. amendment; prop. tax exemption for surviving spouses of soldiers who died in line of duty. (Cross-reference - Military)

Criminal

  • SB 1243 Prohibits extraditing people from Virginia to other states where they are charged with violating abortion laws that are different from Virginia's laws, BUT ONLY IF they were not physically present in the other state when they allegedly violated that state's laws. (Cross-references: Abortion, Constitutional, Procedure)
  • HB 1892 Abduction of a minor; penalty changed from Class 2 to Class 5, but does not change penalties for child abduction by a parent.
  • HB 2398 Sexual extortion; penalties. Adds sexual extortion, defined in the bill as when an accused maliciously disseminates or sells, or threatens to maliciously disseminate or sell, a videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts the complaining witness or such complaining witness's family or household member who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, to the list of actions that, when used to accomplish certain acts against the will of another person, constitute rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, or sexual battery. (Cross-reference: Sexual Assault)

Real Estate

Judges

  • HB 2024 Judges and magistrates; harassing or coercing, doxxing, protecting personal information. Prohibits the state from publishing on the Internet the personal information of any active or retired federal or Virginia justice, judge, or magistrate. The bill adds active or retired federal or Virginia justices, judges, and magistrates to the list of people for which an enhanced punishment applies for the crime of using such person's identity with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass. The bill also adds active and retired magistrates to the list of people who may furnish a post office box address to be included in lieu of their street addresses on the lists of registered voters. 
  • SB 1031 Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission; exception to confidentiality: JIRC must promptly inform complainant of outcome.
  • SB 1517 Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission; removes confidentiality of papers and proceedings if judge is suspended or appeals, but identity of anyone else involved in the case shall be protected.

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

  • SB 1494 Disciplining attorneys and reinstatement of attorneys; procedure by three-judge circuit court may be demanded by former attorney seeking reinstatement; appeal is to three-judge panel of Ct. of Appeals instead of Supreme Ct.

DEAD (BY VARIOUS METHODS AND EUPHEMISMS):

Marriage

Divorce

  • HB 1720 Divorce; cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment- Eliminates the one-year waiting period for being decreed a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment by either party. 

Adoption

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 2091 Parental access to minor's medical records; consent by certain minors to treatment.

Child Support

Spousal Support

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

  • HB 2079 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction, second offense sentence- Upon conviction for assault and battery against family or a household member where such person was previously convicted of a violent offense relating to domestic or other malicious intent in the past 10 years, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days of confinement.
  • HB 1613 False emergency communication to emergency personnel; penalties, report.
  • HB 2079 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction, second offense sentence.

Retirement

  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.

Procedure

  • HB 1880 Localities; record of legal settlement or judgment, disclosure of records.

Elder law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

Military Families

  • HB 1460 Income tax, state; subtraction for low-income mil. veteran w/permanent service-connected disability.
  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.
  • HB 2152 Higher educational institutions, public; in-state tuition, children of active duty service members - shortened residency requirements.
  • SB 1462 Income tax, state; military benefits subtraction, age restriction.

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • SB 902 Attorney General; instituting or conducting criminal prosecutions- Authorizes the Attorney General to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in cases involving a violation of criminal sexual assault or commercial sex trafficking when such crimes are committed against children.
  • SB 921 Sex offenses; prohibiting proximity to children and school property, penalty.
  • HB 2475 Sexual battery; an accused who was a member of clergy, penalty.

Child Abuse/Neglect/Foster Care/Child Safety/CHINS

  • SB 902 Attorney General; instituting or conducting criminal prosecutions- Authorizes the Attorney General to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in cases involving a violation of criminal sexual assault or commercial sex trafficking when such crimes are committed against children.
  • HB 1708 Juveniles; prohibited sales and loans of materials deemed harmful.
  • SB 921 Sex offenses; prohibiting proximity to children and school property, penalty.

Education

  • HB 1867 Virginia Retirement System; teachers get four years' retirement credit for earlier active duty military service.
  • HB 2152 Higher educational institutions, public; in-state tuition, children of active duty service members - shortened residency requirements.
  • SB 920 School protection officers; employment in public schools.

Health

  • HB 2091 Parental access to minor's medical records; consent by certain minors to treatment.

Mental Health

  • HB 1923 Minors; admission to mental health facility for inpatient treatment. Would have changed standards based on consent, age, and addiction.

Abortion / Reproductive Technology

  • SB 1284 Abortion; prohibited, exceptions, penalty.
  • SB 1483 Abortion; viability, treatment of nonviable pregnancy.

LGBT

Constitutional

Criminal

  • HB 2288 "Assault" firearms; age 21 requirement for purchase, penalty.

Real Estate

Judges

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline


2022 Virginia Legislation Affecting Family Law and Practice: Prepare to be "Aquamated."

By John Wettach and John Crouch

Updated 3/10/22

PASSED BOTH HOUSES

Adoption

HB 869 Adoption. Allows a circuit court, upon consideration of a petition for adoption, to immediately enter an interlocutory order referring the case to a child-placing agency to conduct a visitation instead of entering an order of reference referring the case to a child-placing agency for investigation and makes other amendments to accommodate for and bolster this change. The bill allows petitions for adoption submitted by the persons listed as the child's parents on his birth certificate to be filed and granted under the provisions governing stepparent adoptions. The bill prohibits putative fathers from registering with the Virginia Birth Father Registry regarding a child whose adoption has been finalized and in certain other instances set forth in the bill and allows written notice of an adoption plan to be sent to a putative father by express mail with proof of delivery in addition to delivery by personal service or certified mailing as in current law.

Child Abuse/Foster Care

CB 396 Foster care placements; court review; best interests of the child. Provides that the court has the authority to review and approve or deny a foster care plan filed by a local board of social services. The bill requires a foster care plan to assess the stability of proposed placements, the services provided or plans for services to be provided to address placement instability, and a description of other placements that were considered for the child. The bill codifies the factors to be considered when determining the best interests of a child for the purposes of developing foster care plans. The bill also (i) requests that the Committee on District Courts study child dependency hearings in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court system and make recommendations to the General Assembly as to whether a separate docket or court would result in better service to children and families involved in child dependency hearings and other family law matters and (ii) directs the Office of the Children's Ombudsman to convene a work group to consider issues relating to the Commonwealth's model of court-appointed legal counsel in child dependency cases.

HB 1334 Child abuse and neglect; valid complaint. Amends the definition of "abused or neglected child" to include a child who is sexually exploited or abused by an intimate partner of the child's parent or caretaker and allows a complaint of child abuse or neglect to be deemed valid by a local department of social services (local department) in such instances. The bill allows a complaint of child abuse or neglect that alleges child trafficking to be deemed valid regardless of who the alleged abuser is or whether the alleged abuser has been identified. The bill requires a local department that receives a complaint or report of child abuse or neglect over which it does not have jurisdiction to forward such complaint or report to the appropriate local department, if the local department that does have jurisdiction is located in the Commonwealth.

Child Support

SB 455 Calculation of gross income for determination of child support; rental income. Provides that for the calculation of gross income for the purposes of determining child support, rental income shall be subject to the deduction of reasonable expenses. The bill further provides that the party claiming any such deduction has the burden of proof to establish such expenses by a preponderance of the evidence. This bill is in response to Ellis v. Sutton-Ellis, Va. App. No. 0710-20-1 (June 22, 2021).

SB 348 Support orders; retroactivity; arrearages; party's incarceration. Makes various changes to provisions of law related to child and spousal support orders, including (i) providing that in cases in which jurisdiction over child support or spousal support has been divested from the juvenile and domestic relations district court and no final support order has been entered, any award for child support or spousal support in the circuit court shall be retroactive to the date on which the proceeding was commenced by the filing of the action in the juvenile and domestic relations district court and (ii) specifying that prejudgment interest on child support should be retroactive to the date of filing. The bill provides that a party's incarceration alone for 180 or more consecutive days shall not ordinarily be deemed voluntary unemployment or underemployment for the purposes of calculating child support and imputing income for such calculation. The bill further provides that a party's incarceration for 180 or more days shall be a material change of circumstances upon which a modification of a child support order may be based. The provisions of the bill related to imputation of income apply only to petitions for child support and petitions for a modification of a child support order commenced on or after July 1, 2022, and do not create a material change in circumstances for the purposes of modifying a child support order if a parent was incarcerated prior to July 1, 2022, and the incarcerated party cannot establish a material change in circumstances other than incarceration.

Criminal

HB 228 Department of Juvenile Justice; juvenile boot camps. Eliminates the authority of the Department of Juvenile Justice to establish juvenile boot camps and the ability of a court to order a juvenile adjudicated delinquent to attend such a boot camp.

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

HB 749 Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund; purpose; fee apportionment. Provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall adopt guidelines to make funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund, which is used to support the prosecution of domestic violence cases and victim services, available to sexual assault service providers and hospitals for the purpose of funding the cost of salaries and equipment for sexual assault forensic examiners, sexual assault nurse examiners, and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners, with priority for funding such costs given to such forensic examiners and nurse examiners serving rural or underserved areas of the Commonwealth. The bill also increases the amount apportioned to the Fund from the fixed fees for misdemeanors and traffic infractions tried in district court.

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

SB 687 Abuse and neglect; financial exploitation; incapacitated adults; penalties. Changes the term "incapacitated adult" to "vulnerable adult" for the purposes of the crime of abuse and neglect of such adults and defines "vulnerable adult" as any person 18 years of age or older who is impaired by reason of mental illness, intellectual or developmental disability, physical illness or disability, or other causes, including age, to the extent the adult lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate, or carry out reasonable decisions concerning his well-being or has one or more limitations that substantially impair the adult's ability to independently provide for his daily needs or safeguard his person, property, or legal interests. The bill also changes the term "person with mental incapacity" to the same meaning of "vulnerable adult" for the purposes of the crime of financial exploitation. As introduced, the bill was a recommendation of the Virginia Criminal Justice Conference. The bill incorporates SB 126. 

SB 389 Support of parents by child; repeal. Repeals the provision of the Code of Virginia requiring an adult child to assist in providing for the support and maintenance of his or her parent, when such parent requires assistance. Under current law, failure to comply with this provision is punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment in jail for a period not exceeding 12 months or both.

SB 124 Misuse of power of attorney; financial exploitation; incapacitated adults; penalty. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for an agent under a power of attorney who knowingly or intentionally engages in financial exploitation of an incapacitated adult who is the principal of that agent. The bill also provides that the agent's authority terminates upon such conviction. As introduced, this bill was a recommendation of the Virginia Criminal Justice Conference. This bill incorporates SB 10 and SB 690.

HB 1066 Notice of probate; exception to notice. Removes the exception to the notice of probate under current law that allows such notice to not be given when assets passing under a will or in intestacy do not exceed $5,000.

SB 129 Definitions; cremate; crematory; alkaline hydrolysis. Expands the definition of "cremate" to include reducing a dead human body to ashes and bone fragments through alkaline hydrolysis, a water-based process of dissolution using alkaline chemicals and agitation known as aquamation. The bill adds "aquamator" as an additional term for the existing definition of "cremator." The bill also adds "aquatorium" as an additional term for the existing definition of "crematory" or "crematorium" and amends the definition to include a facility containing a pressure vessel. Under current law, "cremate" means to reduce a dead human body to ashes and bone fragments by the action of fire, and "crematory" or "crematorium" means a facility containing a furnace for cremation of dead human bodies.

HB 623 Guardianship and conservatorship; duties of the guardian ad litem; report contents. Adds to the duty of a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the interests of a respondent in a guardianship or conservatorship case the requirement to recommend that counsel be appointed to represent such respondent upon the respondent's request. Under current law, the guardian ad litem is required to recommend counsel be appointed only when he believes appointment is necessary. The bill further directs the guardian ad litem to include in his report to the court an explanation by the guardian ad litem as to any (i) decision not to recommend the appointment of counsel for the respondent, (ii) determination that a less restrictive alternative to guardianship or conservatorship is not available, and (iii) determination that appointment of a limited guardian or conservator is not appropriate.

HB 634 Guardianship; duties of guardian; visitation requirements. Requires a guardian to visit an incapacitated person at least once every 90 days and make certain observations and assessments during each visit. The bill provides that a guardian may utilize a person who is directly employed and supervised by the guardian, or contract the services of a care manager who is a trained professional who specializes in the field of life-care management, geriatrics, older adults and aging or adults with disabilities and who provides written reports to the guardian regarding any such visits to satisfy the duties imposed upon such a guardian. 

Evidence

HB 734 Virginia Freedom of Information Act; disclosure of certain criminal records. Limits FOIA access to records of closed criminal investigations. Amended during the process; here is what passed both houses via a conference committee.  The widest exception to the restrictions is for "an attorney who provides a sworn declaration that the attorney has been retained by an individual for purposes of pursuing a civil or criminal action and has a good faith basis to believe that the records being requested are material to such action."

HB 1145 Civil actions; health care bills and records. Defines the term "bill" for the purposes of evidence of medical services provided in certain civil actions as a summary of charges, an invoice, or any other form prepared by the health care provider or its third-party bill administrator identifying the costs of health care services provided. The bill also clarifies the procedures for introducing evidence of medical reports, statements, or records of a health care provider by affidavit in general district court.

Health Care / Minors

HB 1359 Health care; consent to services and disclosure of records. Eliminates authority of a minor to consent to medical or health services needed in the case of outpatient care, treatment, or rehabilitation for medical illness or emotional disturbance and the disclosure of medical records related thereto. The bill also provides that an authorization for the disclosure of health records shall remain in effect until such time as it is revoked in writing to the person in possession of the health record subject to the authorization; shall include authorization for the release of all health records of the person created by the health care entity to whom permission to release health records was granted from the date on which the authorization was executed; and shall include authorization for the person named in the authorization to assist the person who is the subject of the health record in accessing health care services, including scheduling appointments for the person who is the subject of the health record and attending appointments together with the person who is the subject of the health record. The bill also provides that every health care provider shall make health records of a patient available to any person designated by a patient in an authorization to release medical records and that a health care provider shall allow a person to make an appointment for medical services on behalf of another person, regardless of whether the other person has executed an authorization to release medical records, provided that such health care provider shall not release protected health information to the person making the appointment for medical services on behalf of another person unless such person has executed an authorization to release medical records to the person making the appointment.

Judges

HJ 152 Election of Court of Appeals of Virginia Judges, Circuit Court Judges, General District Court Judges, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judges, and a member of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission.

SB 6 Maximum number of judges in each judicial circuit. Increases from six to seven the maximum number of authorized judges in the Thirty-first Judicial Circuit (Prince William County/Manassas/Manassas Park). This bill is a recommendation of the Judicial Council of Virginia.

SB 106 Retired circuit and district court judges under recall; evaluation; qualification by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee for Courts of Justice. Requires that retired district court judges sitting as substitutes be found qualified every three years by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee for Courts of Justice instead of authorized by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The bill also requires the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia to prepare and distribute an evaluation form for each circuit and district court retired judge who has requested to be called upon to sit in recall during his final year of the three-year period following qualification. The bill further requires that the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia annually prepare and transmit a report including such evaluations conducted that year to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee for Courts of Justice by the first day of the next regular session of the General Assembly.

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

HB 117 Attorneys; examinations and issuance of licenses; requirements. Requires, before an applicant is permitted to take the Virginia bar exam, that the applicant furnish to the Board of Bar Examiners satisfactory evidence that he has satisfactorily completed legal studies amounting to at least five semesters, or the equivalent of at least five semesters on a system other than a semester system, of full-time study at a law school approved by the American Bar Association or the Board of Bar Examiners. Under current law, an applicant is required to have completed all degree requirements of such law school.

Mental Health

HB 242 Practice of licensed professional counselors. Adds licensed professional counselors to the list of eligible providers who can disclose or recommend the withholding of patient records, face a malpractice review panel, and provide recommendations on involuntary temporary detention orders.

Real Estate

SB 498 Conveyances of property; acceptance by clerk's office for recordation. Provides that there is a presumption for state and local governmental agency and office purposes that title to property transfers to the grantee upon acceptance of a deed conveying such property by the clerk of court in the county or city in which the property is located. Such presumption does not apply to matters litigated in the federal or state courts.

Retirement 

SB 349 Division of marital property; Virginia Retirement System managed defined contribution plan; calculation of gains and losses.  Provides that if the court enters an order to distribute any Virginia Retirement System managed defined contribution plan, the Virginia Retirement System shall, if ordered by the court, calculate gains and losses from the valuation date through the date of distribution of the benefits.

 

DEAD (BY VARIOUS METHODS AND EUPHEMISMS):

Custody/Parenting Time

HB 856 Child custody, visitation, and placement; best interests of the child. Requires consideration of a child's attachment to a parent or guardian when determining the best interests of the child. The bill defines "attachment" as an aspect of the child's relationship with a parent or guardian that promotes the child's use of the parent or guardian as a secure base from which to explore, learn, and relate and to feel value, security, comfort, familiarity, and continuity.

SB 113 Custody and visitation; grandparents; mediation. Requires any case in which a grandparent petitions the court for custody or visitation of a minor grandchild to be referred by the court to mediation. The bill requires the petitioning party to pay the fee of the mediator.

HB 365 Parenting Coordinator Act. Creates the Parenting Coordinator Act, which provides a framework for the use of a parenting coordinator in actions for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment in which custody or visitation is in issue, petitions for custody or visitation, and written agreements between parties and parenting coordinators. The Act governs the qualifications, scope of authority, appointment and removal, confidentiality, communication, records maintenance, and fees of such parenting coordinators.

SB 114 Visitation; petition of grandparent. Requires the court, in petitions for visitation filed by the grandparent of a child where either (i) the parent is the grandparent's child and is deceased, incarcerated, or incapacitated, or has had his parental rights terminated or (ii) the grandparent has an established relationship with the child and has provided a significant level of care for the child, to consider the following factors: (a) the historical relationship between the grandparent and child, (b) the motivation of the grandparent in seeking visitation, (c) the motivation of the living parent in denying visitation to the grandparent, (d) the quantity of time requested and the effect it will have on the child's daily activities, and (e) the benefits of maintaining a relationship with the extended family of the deceased parent.

Child Support

HB 1058 Interest on child support arrearages. Provides that no interest shall accrue on arrearages for child support obligations when the order for such support was entered on or after July 1, 2022.

HB 136 Wrongful death; death of the parent or guardian of a child resulting from driving under the influence; child support. Provides that any action for death by wrongful act where the defendant, as a result of driving a motor vehicle or operating a watercraft under the influence, unintentionally caused the death of another person who was the parent or legal guardian of a child, the person who has custody of such child may petition the court to order that the defendant pay child support.

HB 1077 Paternity; genetic tests to determine parentage; relief from paternity; certain actions; penalty. Provides that any person who knowingly gives any false information or makes any false statements for the purpose of determining paternity is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The bill further requires an alleged father of a child be informed of his option to request the administering of a genetic test prior to being entered as the father on a birth certificate. The bill further states that, in addition to any other available legal relief, an individual relieved of paternity who previously paid support pursuant to a child support order entered in conjunction with the set-aside paternity determination may file an action against the other party for repayment of any such support.

Child Abuse / Neglect

SB 412 Termination of parental rights; murder of child. Requires the court to terminate the parental rights of a parent upon finding, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child and that the parent has been convicted of an offense under the laws of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar law of any other state, the United States, or any foreign jurisdiction that constitutes murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any such offense, and the victim of the offense was the child of the parent over whom parental rights would be terminated. The bill also requires local boards of social services to file a petition to terminate parental rights in such instances.

Divorce

HB 1351 Grounds for divorce; cruelty, abuse, desertion, or abandonment; waiting period. Eliminates the one-year waiting period for being decreed a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment.

Retirement

SB 418 Division of marital property; military retainer pay. Provides that, for the purposes of dividing marital property, military retainer pay shall be classified as separate property.

Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault

HB 359 Termination of parental rights of person who committed sexual assault; clear and convincing evidence standard. Provides that the parental rights of a person who has been found by a clear and convincing evidence standard to have committed rape, carnal knowledge, or incest, which act resulted in the conception of a child, may be terminated without the need for the person to have been charged with or convicted of such offense. The bill further provides that the consent of a person found to have committed such an offense is not necessary for the validity of an adoption of such a child.

HB 475 Protective orders; petition; human trafficking and sex trafficking; penalty. Adds to the definitions of "family abuse" and "act of violence, force, or threat" used in the protective order provisions that acts of violence, force, or threat include acts in furtherance of human trafficking or commercial sex trafficking. The bill also allows a minor to petition for a protective order on his own behalf without the consent of a parent or guardian and without doing so by next friend.

HB 713 Family abuse; coercive control; penalty. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person to engage in coercive control, defined in the bill, of a family or household member. The bill also includes coercive control in the definition of "family abuse" used for the basis of the issuance of family abuse protective orders.

HB 408 Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund; funding for sexual assault services. Adds payments to sexual assault service providers and hospitals for the purpose of providing salaries and equipment for sexual assault nurse examiners and pediatric forensic nurses to the list of purposes for which funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund may be used and requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to prioritize funding to sexual assault service providers and hospitals that provide sexual assault nurse examiner services and pediatric forensic nurse services in rural and underserved communities when making funds available for such purpose. The bill also increases the amount apportioned to the Fund from the fixed-fee assessment for misdemeanors and traffic infractions tried in district court.

Criminal/Juvenile

HB 181 Criminal records; sealing of records; repeal. Repeals provisions not yet effective allowing for the automatic and petition-based sealing of police and court records for certain convictions, deferred dispositions, and acquittals and for offenses that have been nolle prossed or otherwise dismissed.

HB 1115 Juvenile justice; human trafficking screening. Requires the Department of Juvenile Justice to use trauma-informed screening measures to identify whether any child committed to the Department has been a victim of human trafficking and determine appropriate treatment and service options. The bill also requires that, in cases in which a juvenile and domestic relations district court or circuit court orders that a juvenile within its jurisdiction be physically examined and treated by a physician or local mental health center, such examination include trauma-informed screening measures to identify whether the juvenile has been a victim of human trafficking and determine appropriate treatment and service options.

HB 1213 Minor victims of sex trafficking; arrest and prosecution; services. Provides that no minor shall be subject to arrest, delinquency charges, or prosecution for (i) a status offense, (ii) an act that would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult, or (iii) an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult other than a violent juvenile felony if the minor (a) is a victim of sex trafficking or severe forms of trafficking and (b) committed such offense as a direct result of being solicited, invited, recruited, encouraged, forced, intimidated, or deceived by another to engage in acts of prostitution or unlawful sexual intercourse for money or its equivalent, regardless of whether any other person has been charged or convicted of an offense related to the sex trafficking of such minor. The bill also clarifies that it is not a defense to a commercial sex trafficking charge where the adult committed such violation with a person under 18 years of age that such person under 18 years of age consented to any of the prohibited acts. The bill also provides that the local department of social services shall refer any child suspected or determined to be a victim of sex trafficking to an available victim assistance organization that provides comprehensive trauma-informed services designed to alleviate the adverse effects of trafficking and victimization and to aid in the child's healing, including assistance with case management, placement, access to educational and legal services, and mental health services.

HB 622 Custodial interrogation of a child; advisement of rights. Requires that prior to any custodial interrogation of a child by a law-enforcement officer, the child and, if no attorney is present and if no exception to the requirement that the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian be notified applies, the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian shall be advised that (i) the child has a right to remain silent; (ii) any statement the child makes can and may be used against the child; (iii) the child has a right to an attorney and that one will be appointed for the child if the child is not represented and wants representation; and (iv) the child has a right to have his parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney present during any questioning. The bill states that if a child indicates in any manner and at any stage of questioning during a custodial interrogation that he does not wish to be questioned further, the law-enforcement officer shall cease questioning. The bill also requires, before admitting into evidence any statement made by a child during a custodial interrogation, that the court find that the child knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his rights and states that no admission or confession made by a child younger than 16 years of age during a custodial interrogation may be admitted into evidence unless it was made in the presence of the child's parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney.

HB 658 Juveniles; appointment of counsel; indigency. Removes provisions stating that when the court appoints counsel to represent a child in a detention hearing or in a case involving a child who is alleged to be in need of services, in need of supervision, or delinquent and, after an investigation by the court services unit, finds that the parents are financially able to pay for such attorney in whole or in part and refuse to do so, the court shall assess costs against the parents for such legal services in the amount awarded the attorney by the court, not to exceed $100 if the action is in circuit court or the maximum amount specified for court-appointed counsel appearing in district court. The bill also removes provisions requiring that before counsel is appointed in any case involving a child who is alleged to be in need of services, in need of supervision, or delinquent, the court determine that the child is indigent. The bill provides that for the purposes of appointment of counsel for a delinquency proceeding, a child shall be considered indigent.

Elder Law / Probate / Wills / Trusts

HB 836 Virginia Small Estate Act; funeral expenses of decedent. Provides that any person holding the small estate of a decedent shall pay the funeral director or funeral service establishment handling the funeral of the decedent at the request of a successor of such an estate. Under current law, such payment is discretionary and made to the undertaker or mortuary.

HB 1207 Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services; training; powers and duties of guardian; annual reports by guardians; information required. Directs the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to develop and provide training for court-appointed guardians. The bill requires an appointed guardian and any staff employed by such guardian to perform guardianship duties to complete the initial training developed by the Department within four months of the date of the initial court order of appointment and to include certain additional information in the annual report that the guardian is required under current law to submit to the local department of social services.

HB 1260 Guardianship; procedures for restriction of communication, visitation, or interaction. Provides that a guardian shall not restrict an incapacitated person's ability to communicate with, visit, or interact with other persons with whom the incapacitated person has an established relationship, unless such restriction is reasonable to prevent physical, mental, or emotional harm to or financial exploitation of such incapacitated person. Under current law, guardians are directed to not unreasonably restrict any such communication, visitation, or interaction. The bill further requires that the guardian provide written notice to any restricted person stating (i) the nature and terms of the restriction, (ii) the reasons why the guardian believes the restriction is necessary, and (iii) how the restricted person may challenge such restriction in court. The bill provides a procedure by which a person whose communication, visits, or interaction with an incapacitated person have been restricted may challenge such restriction in court.

HB 1095 Health care; decision making; end of life; penalties. Allows an adult diagnosed with a terminal condition to request and an attending health care provider to prescribe a self-administered controlled substance for the purpose of ending the patient's life in a humane and dignified manner. The bill requires that a patient's request for a self-administered controlled substance to end his life must be given orally on two occasions and in writing, signed by the patient and one witness, and that the patient be given an express opportunity to rescind his request at any time. The bill makes it a Class 2 felony (i) to willfully and deliberately alter, forge, conceal, or destroy a patient's request, or rescission of request, for a self-administered controlled substance to end his life with the intent and effect of causing the patient's death; (ii) to coerce, intimidate, or exert undue influence on a patient to request a self-administered controlled substance for the purpose of ending his life or to destroy the patient's rescission of such request with the intent and effect of causing the patient's death; or (iii) to coerce, intimidate, or exert undue influence on a patient to forgo a self-administered controlled substance for the purpose of ending the patient's life. The bill also grants immunity from civil or criminal liability and professional disciplinary action to any person who complies with the provisions of the bill and allows health care providers to refuse to participate in the provision of a self-administered controlled substance to a patient for the purpose of ending the patient's life.

SB 126 Abuse and neglect; financial exploitation; incapacitated adults; penalties. Changes the term "incapacitated adult" to "vulnerable adult" for the purposes of the crime of abuse and neglect of such adults and defines "vulnerable adult" as any person 18 years of age or older who is impaired by reason of mental illness, intellectual or developmental disability, physical illness or disability, advanced age, or other causes to the extent the adult lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate, or carry out reasonable decisions concerning his well-being or has one or more limitations that substantially impair the adult's ability to independently provide for his daily needs or safeguard his person, property, or legal interests. The bill adds the definition of "advanced age" as it is used in the definition of "vulnerable adult" to mean 65 years of age or older. The bill also changes the term "person with mental incapacity" to the same meaning of "vulnerable adult" for the purposes of the crime of financial exploitation. This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Criminal Justice Conference. [NOW INCORPORATED IN SB 687]

HB 286 Nurse practitioners; declaration of death and cause of death. Authorizes autonomous nurse practitioners, defined in the bill, to declare death and determine cause of death; allows nurse practitioners who are not autonomous nurse practitioners to pronounce the death of a patient in certain circumstances; and eliminates the requirement for a valid Do Not Resuscitate Order for the deceased patient for declaration of death by a registered nurse, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner who is not an autonomous nurse practitioner.

SB 668 Death with Dignity Act; penalties. Allows an adult who has been determined by an attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal condition to request medication for the purpose of ending his life in a humane and dignified manner. The bill requires that a patient's request for medication to end his life be given orally on two occasions, that such request be in writing, signed by the patient and two witnesses, and that the patient be given an express opportunity to rescind his request. The bill requires that before a patient is prescribed medication to end his life, the attending physician must (i) confirm that the patient is making an informed decision; (ii) refer the patient to a capacity reviewer if the physician is uncertain as to whether the patient is making an informed decision; (iii) refer the patient to a consulting physician for confirmation or rejection of the attending physician's diagnosis; and (iv) inform the patient that he may rescind the request at any time. The bill provides that neither a patient's request for medication to end his life in a humane and dignified manner nor his act of ingesting such medication shall have any effect upon a life, health, or accident insurance policy or an annuity contract. The bill makes it a Class 2 felony (a) to willfully and deliberately alter, forge, conceal, or destroy a patient's request, or rescission of request, for medication to end his life with the intent and effect of causing the patient's death or (b) to coerce, intimidate, or exert undue influence on a patient to request medication for the purpose of ending his life or to destroy the patient's rescission of such request with the intent and effect of causing the patient's death. Finally, the bill grants immunity from civil or criminal liability and professional disciplinary action to any person who complies with the provisions of the bill and allows health care providers to refuse to participate in the provision of medication to a patient for the purpose of ending the patient's life.

HB 424 Guardianship; duties of guardian; visitation requirements. Requires a guardian to visit an incapacitated person at least once every three months and make certain observations and assessments during each visit.

HB 610 Cemeteries; interment rights; proof of kinship.  Allows a family member or descendant of a deceased person buried in a cemetery that is located on private property to petition the circuit court of the county or city where the property is located for interment rights upon such property. The bill provides that such family member or descendant may prove kinship to the court through official documentation or nonofficial documentation, such as obituaries, family Bibles or other documents with family signatures, journals or letters of the deceased person interred on the private property, family photographs, or other documentation deemed by the court to be reliable. The bill requires, upon satisfactory showing of proof of kinship, a private property owner to allow such family member or descendant access to the property for the purpose of interment.

Judges

HB 761 Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission; availability of complaint forms. Requires that any standard complaint form utilized by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission shall be made available in paper form at every clerk's office in all courts across the Commonwealth. The bill also requires that a sign be posted in all state courts of the Commonwealth, in a location accessible to the public, detailing the availability and location of such form. Such sign shall also include information on how to access a downloadable electronic version of the form, which shall be made available on the official website of the judicial system of the Commonwealth, every individual appellate, circuit, general district, and juvenile and domestic relations district court website, if such website exists, and the website for the Division of Legislative Services.

Abortion

HB 983 Provision of abortion; abortion on the basis of genetic disorder, sex, or ethnicity prohibited; penalty. Removes from the list of persons who can perform first trimester abortions any person jointly licensed by the Board of Medicine and Nursing as a nurse practitioner acting within such person's scope of practice. The bill adds procedures and processes, including the performance of an ultrasound, required to effect a pregnant person's informed written consent to the performance of an abortion. The bill adds language classifying facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month as hospitals for the purpose of complying with regulations establishing minimum standards for hospitals. The bill also provides that a person who performs an abortion with knowledge that the abortion is sought solely and exclusively on account of a genetic disorder, the sex, or the ethnicity of the unborn child is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

HB 212 Provision of abortion; right to informed consent. Requires physicians and authorized nurse practitioners to follow certain procedures and processes to affect a pregnant woman's informed written consent prior to the performance of an abortion.

HB 304 Abortion; born alive human infant; treatment and care; penalty. Requires every physician licensed by the Board of Medicine who attempts to terminate a pregnancy to (i) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of a human infant who has been born alive following such attempt as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age and (ii) take all reasonable steps to ensure the immediate transfer of the human infant who has been born alive to a hospital for further medical care. A physician who fails to comply with the requirements of this act is guilty of a Class 4 felony and may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Medicine. The bill also requires every hospital licensed by the Department of Health to establish a protocol for the treatment and care of a human infant who has been born alive following performance of an abortion and for the immediate reporting to law enforcement of any failure to provide such required treatment and care.

Lawyer Ethics and Discipline

HB 561 Virginia Attorney Disciplinary Commission; established. Establishes the Virginia Attorney Disciplinary Commission in the legislative branch of state government for the purpose of holding disciplinary hearings initiated by the Virginia State Bar against an attorney for a violation of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct or Unauthorized Practice Rules that would be the basis for a sanction to be imposed against such attorney and grants the Commission the power to hold issue sanctions against such attorney. The bill transfers any existing authority to discipline attorneys from the Virginia State Bar to the Commission.

LGBT Issues

HB 605 Constitutional amendment (voter referendum); marriage; repeal of same-sex marriage prohibition; affirmative right to marry. Provides for a referendum at the November 8, 2022, election to approve or reject an amendment that would repeal the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between a man and woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). The amendment provides that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of persons and requires the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and agents to issue marriage licenses, recognize marriages, and treat all marriages equally under the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage. Religious organizations and clergy acting in their religious capacity have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.


Governor Approves 59 Bills Changing Family Law, 46 More Affecting Family Life, But Modifies Gun Restrictions

Updated 4/23/20

By John Crouch and Sarah Panariello

This year's legislative session included many modest but salutary amendments to make family life and family law a little more efficient and fair. There were also immense amounts of mostly political legislation that will have various side effects on families and work their way into family law cases. 59 of the former and 46 of the latter passed. But another 109 of the family law/family life bills we were tracking are now dead, at least for this year.

The Governor has now acted on all such bills that both houses passed (except for joint resolutions, such as the ones passing the ERA, which do not involve him). He suggested amendments or substitute versions for a few, slightly relaxing new gun-control restrictions and penalties, and signed the rest.

This post has been updated throughout the legislative season to track all family-law bills, and many bills on other topics that will affect family life and family law cases. They are listed below based on what stage of the becomes-a-law process they are at, and then, within that, by subject. If anything is incomplete or not up to date, please inform us by commenting.

HIGHLIGHTS

A bill makes pendente lite spousal support guidelines apply in Circuit Court as well as Juvenile, and reduces them slightly to account for the recent federal tax law change to taxing payors instead of payees for alimony. Another clarifies that after "reserving jurisdiction" to award spousal support, such support can only be awarded based on a material change of circumstances, unless the agreement or divorce decree expressly says otherwise.  There is also a tweak to the new statute that made alimony awards in new separation agreements be presumed modifiable unless they expressly said otherwise. That would still be the rule, but the statement that prevents or limits modification will no longer have to be in the exact words prescribed by the Code.

A bill splits unpaid expenses of pregnancy and childbirth in proportion to the parents' incomes, if a support case is filed in the child's first six months. Another clarifies that courts can award child-related tax credits, not just dependency exemptions. The cap on what is considered reasonably-priced court-ordered health insurance is lowered significantly.

Targeted for demolition this year is the rule that in Juvenile Court, fee awards are only based on relative economic circumstances, and nothing else. 

Several bills tweak the factors and presumptions in child custody and visitation decisions, but probably with little effect anytime soon. Judges could consider the motives of both parties in grandparent visitation disputes; and should consider a party's history of violent or sexual abuse even if it involved their other partners and children, not the ones the case is about.

Also affecting custody cases is a bill saying both parents must have equal access to day care records and information. Speaking of day care, a huge change is being proposed that would create a comprehensive system of public and private day care for everyone, like unto the K-12 school system. Similar proposed comprehensive social programs include, at the other end of the cradle-to-grave spectrum, a state-run retirement account that private employers could opt into.

Many others are nice little changes, but frankly minor. One bill would have abolished the requirement for  third-party corroborating witnesses to prove divorce grounds. It passed the House, and the Senate's committees, but was defeated on the Senate floor by four votes. Others put legal notices into online publications and take them off of the courthouse door, and let you send notice of publication orders by email, sometimes.

One perennial minor annoyance is the requirement to file an original of the return or affidavit of process-service within 72 hours. When you're having people served in faraway states or on other continents, as I regularly do, that's often impossible.  The questionable 72-hour rule remains, but there is a bill that allows copies, faxes, scans etc. instead of the original.

As always, there are many bills cracking down on domestic violence and sexual abuse, but there is so little of this still left to do that they are either exceedingly marginal, or so imaginative that their net effect may be to give the bad guys more destructive ideas, such as filing lawsuits to retaliate against, or deter, victims' pursuing civil or criminal remedies. 

Adult guardianship and conservatorship are facing a major overhaul, aiming much more scrutiny at guardians and other fiduciaries.

Sexual freedom and discrimination: One bill abolishes the requirements for children to get a parent's or a judge's permission for abortions. Others all but outlaw "conversion therapy" for minors, and do several things to banish all forms of anti-gay or anti-trans discrimination. And among the first bills to pass both houses are two ratifying the federal Equal Rights Amendment. 

A few bills aim to decriminalize school and adolescence. A couple assure schools that they do not have to involve the police every time a child does something that might be a misdemeanor. Another says that schools and school buses are not "public places" when applying criminal laws against "disorderly conduct."  Sunscreen would no longer be contraband in school, but the kids would have to stay out of tanning salons. After all, how do we know that they aren't getting "conversion therapy" in those tanning beds? Other bills aim to put fewer children on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives, and send most teenage "sexters" to counseling instead of child-pornographer prison.

Many bills incrementally restrict minors' access to guns. Almost all of them seem mostly harmless, requiring locking weapons away from minors, extending to age 18 the crime of  recklessly allowing minors under 14 access to firearms, making it a felony, and changing that "recklessly" standard to "negligently." Such rules should be fine if they actually are applied with factually informed standards for what is reasonable, what is reckless, and what is negligent in that particular community and household. But it's also understandable that people are vigilant about "for the children" legislation being twisted to take huge bites out of the freedom and self-sufficiency of adults and youth.

In the big picture, hunters, gun owners, religions, tanners, guardians, sunscreen police, divorce corroborators, wife-beaters and conversion therapists shouldn't feel singled out for cultural genocide. There's also legislation to begin licensing and regulating art therapists, music therapists, naturopaths, doulas and court reporters. If only because once they're state-licensed professionals, they won't be allowed to do conversion therapy.

DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN (UNTIL NEXT YEAR, ANYHOW)

Who says there's no free lunch, or that the General Assembly has no family-law visionaries? One bill says child and spousal support can only be based on net income -- not on gross, and not on earning capacity or imputed income. Another says if support is going through the DCSE, the payee gets paid even when the payor doesn't pay. Sadly, despite much talk about transforming the Old Dominion, Virginia is not yet the Big Rock Candy Mountain, the place where, as Captain John Smith promised, "Evereey manne shall cavorte and bee fruetfulle and multiplye under his owne vyne and figge tree."  These two were among the very first bills to die.

A tiny and I hope redundant addition to child custody law would have urged judges to assure frequent, continuing contact with both parents -- of course only "where appropriate" (sigh). This slight whimper was then watered down to get through subcommittee, and again in committee, only to be killed anyway on the House floor, 52-41.

Next came reforms to contempt of court. One bill said that if you bring a contempt case and you lose, you can appeal the "not in contempt" finding to the Court of Appeals, fixing a disconcerting oddity in the law that has come to light in the last few years. As for judge-initiated "summary" contempt punishments, someone considered it helpful to extend the maximum jail time to 30 days. Dead, and dead.

While the great cavalcade of bills aimed at protecting the incapacitated from their own guardians almost all survived, two worthy efforts that failed said that the beneficiaries of guardianship should have a voice in their own guardianship cases, and generally should not be cut off from any other family members.

As if people didn't have enough to worry about, the House refused to let Protective Orders prohibit using electronic remote control of things in and around the victim's home. Well, we don't want protective order forms to become a long checklist suggesting new ways to abuse people.

On the sexual freedom front, much ground is being won, but many sweeping efforts are dead, for this year at least. One of them puts absolute reproductive freedom in the state constitution. Others require employers and insurers to pay for abortion, sterilization, and everything in between on the spectrum of contraception; repeal the "conscience clause" that lets religious institutions with traditional moral beliefs keep operating adoption agencies, and even redefine child abuse and neglect to include "inflicting, creating, allowing or threatening any physical or mental injury based on gender identity or sexual orientation". 

BILLS AND THEIR STATUS

PASSED BOTH HOUSES: 

  • SJ 1 Ratifies Equal Rights Amendment
  • HJ 1 Ratifies Equal Rights Amendment

GOVERNOR REQUESTED CHANGES INSTEAD OF SIGNING: 

  • SB 479 as passed by both houses: No guns for people under any protective orders, not just those for family violence. 24 hour grace period to transfer guns. Anyone under a protective order has 48 hours to certify in writing that he or she now possesses no firearms; failing to do so is a misdemeanor. The governor's amendment changes that failure to certify from a criminal misdemeanor into civil contempt of court. It makes other changes that clarify the wording but do not change the substance. The legislature has approved the governor's amendment.
  • HB 1004: No guns for people under any permanent protective orders. 24 hour grace period to transfer guns. Anyone under a protective order has 48 hours to certify in writing that she now possesses no firearms; failing to do so is a misdemeanor. The governor's amendment changes that failure to certify from a criminal misdemeanor into civil contempt of court. It makes other changes that clarify the wording but do not change the substance. The legislature has approved the governor's amendment.
  • SB 71 Expands the prohibition of weapons on school property to include daycare and preschool property, including the entire building (such as a church) that the day care or preschool is in, but only during the hours when the day care, etc. is open. Does not apply to day care operated in the residence of the provider or of one of the children. But still bans weapons in churches during day care/preschool hours. Daycare may have armed security; that is added to many existing exceptions, such as knives being used for food service or other employment, school-sponsored programs, law enforcement, unloaded and properly stored weapons, and otherwise-legal weapons kept safely in vehicles. The governor's substitute adds that the provisions governing day cares and private or religious preschools "(i) shall apply only during the operating hours of such child day center or private or religious preschool and (ii) shall not apply to any person (a) whose residence is on the property of a child day center or a private or religious preschool and (b) who possesses a firearm or other weapon prohibited under this section while in his residence." Makes a couple other wording changes, which are not substantive. The legislature has approved the governor's amendment.

APPROVED BY GOVERNOR, BECOMING LAW AS OF JULY 1, 2020: 

Divorce

Marriage

  • SB 62 Race information not required in marriage records, divorce/annulment reports, VS-4s, nor divorce statistics
  • SB 955 Civil celebration of marriage fee maximum increased to $75  

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 436 Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act; disclosure of identifying information when one party claims it would be dangerous: Currently, once one party claims this, it cannot be disclosed unless the court decides to in a hearing within 15 days of the filing of a pleading. This bill adds "or affidavit" after "pleading." 
  • SB 430 Each parent to have access to child-care records, regardless of custody. 
  • HB 137 Guardians ad litem for children must give certification of compliance with standards.
  • HB 861 Requires courts in custody and visitation cases to consider  "any act of violence, force, or threat as that phrase is defined in § 19.2-152.7:1 against an intimate partner or the intimate partner's child, or any history of sexual abuse or child abuse," in addition to the current requirement to consider any "history of family abuse." no earlier than 10 years prior to filing of petition.
  • SB 105 Requires courts in custody and visitation cases to consider  "any act of violence, force, or threat as that phrase is defined in § 19.2-152.7:1 against an intimate partner or the intimate partner's child, or any history of sexual abuse," in addition to the current requirement to consider any "history of family abuse." no earlier than 10 years prior to filing of petition.
  • SB 214 GALs to review and report on Individualized Education Plans in young-adult guardianship cases

Child Support

  • SB 434 Court may award either parent the right to claim child-related income tax credits as well as dependency exemptions. 
  • HB 637 "Reasonable cost of health care coverage," in law on ordering coverage as part of child support, to mean no more than 5% of providing parent's income, instead of 5% of parents' combined incomes.
  • SB 428 Any unpaid medical expenses for pregnancy and birth to be split
  • HB 690 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF): Repeals the prohibition on increasing the amount of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that a family receives upon the birth of a child during the period of TANF eligibility or an adult recipient is ineligible because of child support compliance issues

Spousal Support

  • SB 432 Material change of circumstances required before court may use post-divorce "reserved" jurisdiction to order spousal support, unless a contract, stipulation or court order says otherwise.
  • HB 1500 Pendente lite spousal support guidelines shall apply in Circuit Court as well as Juvenile, and are reduced slightly to account for federal tax law change taxing payors instead of payees for alimony.
  • HB 1501 Spousal support in a stipulation or contract made after 7/1/18 is still modifiable if the contract does not expressly say that it is not modifiable, or limit modifiability; but that express statement will no longer have to be in specific wording required by statute.

Adoption

  • HB 94 Must give proper notice of adoption proceeding to legal custodian.
  • HB 721 Post-adoption contact and communication agreements; parents whose parental rights were involuntarily terminated may enter such agreements.

Child Abuse/Foster Care

  • HB 778  60 instead of 45 days for "family assessments" when children alleged to be at risk.
  • HB 287 Extends from one year to three years the period of time for which the Department of Social Services must retain records of unfounded investigations of child abuse or neglect before purging.
  • HB 933 State-Funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance program created to facilitate child placements with relatives, including "fictive kin", and ensure permanency for children in foster care. "Fictive kin" means persons who are not related to a child by blood or adoption but have an established relationship with the child or his family.
  • SB 178 State-Funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance program created to facilitate child placements with relatives, including "fictive kin", and ensure permanency for children in foster care. "Fictive kin" means persons who are not related to a child by blood or adoption but have an established relationship with the child or his family.
  • SB 472 Foster care; encourages termination of parental rights improves training and information about voluntary and involuntary termination, independent living needs assessments.
  • SB 156 Fostering Futures program to provide services and support to former foster care children now between 18 and 21
  • HB 904  Public sports programs' volunteers and employees shall be mandated reporters of suspected child abuse/neglect

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

Elder Laws/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 1378 Codifies the Uniform Directed Trust Act, allowing and governing the role of a "trust director"
  • HB 305  Fee for lodging, etc., of wills increased from low to mid-single digits
  • HB 362 Physician assistants, not just doctors, can make determinations that patient has no capacity to make informed decisions
  • HB 641 Funeral homes must accept caskets provided by third parties, but need not store them
  • SB 261 Accounts filed by fiduciaries and reports filed by guardians must be signed under oath; not to do so is a misdemeanor
  • SB 553 Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act -- rules for selling, preserving, or partitioning inherited tenancy-in-common property.
  • HB 839 Probate tax exception/refund for Virginia Beach mass shooting victims
  • HB 775 Directs Virginia College Savings Plan to analyze private retirement plans; report
  • HB 1222 When notarizing for someone in nursing home or assisted living, a passport or driver's license that expired in the last 5 years may be used to prove identity.
  • SB 700 Wills must be indexed in the name of executor named in the will
  • SB 355 Assisted living facilities; audio-visual recording of residents to be studied, stakeholder-grouped, then regulated.
  • SB 1072  Prohibits the court from appointing, as guardian or conservator for an incapacitated person, any attorney who is engaged to represent the person who is asking the court to order the guardianship, whether representing them in that case or in anything else. Includes other attorneys or employees of such attorney's law firm.
  • HB 887 ABLE Savings Trusts may be passed to a survivor.

Procedure

  • HB 1378 Pleadings, motions, and other papers with missing or defective signatures are void unless defect is promptly cured, or unless there is no timely objection to the defect. 
  • HB 834 Courts may permit notice of an order of publication to be given by electronic means in addition to or in lieu of publication in a newspaper
  • HB 60 District court substitute judges will retain power to sign final orders for 14 days after hearing a case.
  • HB 780 Courts to accept copies of proofs process-service in place of originals
  • HB 1346 Makes it easier to get attorney fees paid out of money that is under control of the court
  • SB 451 Juvenile and domestic relations district court; awards of attorney fees shall be determined based on all relevant factors, not just the relative financial ability of the parties.
  • SB 229 Pleadings, motions, and other papers with missing or defective signatures are void unless defect is promptly cured, or unless there is no timely objection to the defect.
  • SB 771 Interlocutory appeals to Court of Appeals: Just listing it here to note that it does not apply to family law cases.
  • SB 693 Common-law defense of intra-family immunity abolished in wrongful death cases.
  • SB 408 Notices of civil case appeals shall not have a hearing until parties have been served or waived service

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • SB 724 Misdemeanor sexual offenses; increases statute of limitations, when victim was a minor.
  • HB 475 Virginia sexual assault forensic examiner coordination program; established, report.
  • HB 870 Sexual abuse: 10-year statute of limitations. keeps 20-year when victim was a minor
  • SB 297 Creates Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, administered by Department of Social Services, in coordination with Department of Health and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, to develop and support programs that prevent sexual and domestic violence;  promote healthy practices related to relationships, sexuality, and social-emotional development; and counteract the factors associated with the initial perpetration of sexual and domestic violence.
  • HB 298 Misdemeanor sexual offenses; increases statute of limitations, where the victim is a minor.
  • SB 579 Streamlines & reorganizes Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry process; lower-level offenders will no longer have to register annually.
  • SB 42 Sexual abuse via false representation or subterfuge that is part of a massage by a massage therapist, a medical procedure, or physical therapy, shall be aggravated sexual battery. Regardless of victim's age or competence. 1 to 20 years, fine of up to $100,000.00.

Child Safety

  • HB 1083 Minors; allowing access to firearms, Class 1 misdemeanor recklessly allowing access under age 14; Class 3 misdemeanor for recklessly leaving a loaded and unsecure firearm around a child under 14; no unsupervised use under age 12.
  • HB 402 Public school lock-down drills, frequency, exemptions for kindergarteners.
  • HB 578 Smoking; illegal in motor vehicle with a minor under 15 present (current law only covers minors under 8)
  • SB 173 Stun weapons; prohibits possession on school property, exempts holder of concealed handgun permit, but only if it remains in vehicle
  • SB 593 All firearms in a licensed in-home day care provider's home must be stored unloaded and locked up.
  • HB 600 In-home day cares must store guns and ammo separately, and locked up in a container, cabinet, etc.
  • HB 38 Tanning facilities prohibited for minors.
  • HB 799 Day cares must test all drinkable water sources for lead.
  • HB 1080 Firearms or other weapons; unauthorized to possess on school property.

        But the same bill also adds a sweeping statement with no such exceptions at the beginning of existing Code Section 18.2-308.2:2: "All firearm sales or transfers, in whole or in part in the Commonwealth, including a sale or transfer where either the purchaser or seller or transferee or transferor is in the Commonwealth, shall be subject to a criminal history record information check unless specifically exempted by state or federal law." 

        I for one am completely unsure which section is supposed to trump the other. The exceptions clause is framed only as an exception to that particular Code section, and includes the caveat, "unless otherwise prohibited by state or federal law". Such a "state law" would likely include the existing section with its new amendment requiring a lengthy background check process for all transfers, no exceptionsBut that section, in turn, says, "unless specifically exempted by state or federal law." Would that include an exemption whose text is only written to apply within its own Code section? Seems like a chicken-or-egg problem. Although I would hope that any future interpretation would conclude that the legislature could not have intended a ten-point list of exceptions to be completely inoperable.

Education

  • HB 410 Parents must be notified when student gets  literacy or "Response to Intervention" screening and services
  • HB 256 Criminal disorderly conduct does not include things students do in school, on bus, or at school-related activities
  • SB 3 Disorderly conduct; student not guilty of disorderly conduct in a public place if incident occurred on school property, on school bus, or at school sponsored event.
  • HB 257 Schools don't have to contact police about all conduct that might be a misdemeanor
  • SB 729 Schools don't have to contact police about all conduct that might be a misdemeanor
  • SB 186 IEP teams must consider appropriate instruction about sexual health, self-restraint, self-protection, respect for personal privacy, and personal boundaries
  • SB 238 Increases required kindergarten hours 83%
  • HB 999 Schools must have epinephrine constantly accessible, along with staff trained to administer it 
  • SB 44 Lets students keep and bear sunscreen without a doctor's note, etc.
  • HB 1012 Early childhood care and education; establishes comprehensive public-private system basically like the school system, and operated and regulated by the Department of Education.

Health

  • HB 134 IEP teams must consider appropriate instruction about sexual health, self-restraint, self-protection, respect for personal privacy, and personal boundaries
  • HB 687 Doulas to be state-regulated, registered and certified
  • SB 423 Health insurance; mandated coverage for hearing aids for minors.
  • SB 213 Study increasing the Personal Maintenance Allowance for people receiving Medicaid, etc.

Mental Health

  • S.B. 713 Establishes state licensing for art therapists; emergency regulations shall issue to implement this.
  • SB 633 Music therapy to be strictly licensed and regulated
  • S.B. 1046 Adds clinical social workers to the list of providers who can disclose or recommend the withholding of patient records.
  • HB 308 Students' excused absences for mental and behavioral health reasons, DOE to create guidelines
  • HB 42 Health care providers must be trained in screening patients for prenatal and postpartum depression

Military Families

  • HB 967 Military service members' spouses: expediting the issuance of professional credentials
  • HB 143 Unemployment compensation for leaving employment to follow military spouse

LGBT Issues

  • HB 145 Statewide minimum guidelines on treatment of transgender students to be developed; public elementary and secondary schools must adopt or exceed them.
  • HB 386 Conversion therapy: state-licensed health care providers, and other state-licensed professionals who do counseling, must not do conversion therapy for minors. No state benefits, funds, contracts or grants to any entity that does it for minors.
  • SB 161 Statewide minimum guidelines on treatment of transgender students to be developed; public elementary and secondary schools must adopt or exceed them.
  • HB 1490 Repeals laws against same-sex marriages and civil unions.
  • SB 17 Repeals laws against same-sex marriages and civil unions.
  • SB 657 New birth certificates to show change of sex: an affidavit of appropriate gender-transition treatment from a health care provider may be required, but no evidence of any medical procedure shall be required
  • SB 245 Conversion therapy: state-licensed health care providers, and other state-licensed professionals who do counseling, must not do conversion therapy for minors. No state benefits, funds, contracts or grants to any entity that does it for minors.
  • HB1041 New birth certificate for sex change may require proof of clinically appropriate treatment, but shall not require any medical procedure.
  • HB 623 Gender-neutral terms throughout the Virginia Code, including laws that punish incest, defaming a lady's "virtue and chastity", or leaving one's wife in a "bawdy place", whether that is for the purpose of prostitution or for "unlawful sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus"; removes prohibitions on same-sex marriage and civil unions. Seems a bit of a mixed bag for the cause of gay rights.

Abortion

  • HB 980 Abortion: Informed consent no longer includes ultrasound, provision of specified information, or offer to review certain printed materials; physician's assistants and nurse practitioners can perform abortions, abortion facilities will not have to comply with regulations for hospitals.
  • SB 733 Abortion: Informed consent no longer includes ultrasound, provision of specified information, or offer to review certain printed materials; physician's assistants and nurse practitioners can perform abortions, abortion facilities will not have to comply with regulations for hospitals.

Criminal

  • HB 1071 Legalizes profanity in public.
  • HB 245 Repeals the crime of fornication, i.e., voluntary sexual intercourse by an unmarried person.
  • SB 378 Computer trespass; expands the crime. No longer requires "malicious intent" if done "through intentionally deceptive means and without authority." Eliminates "without owner's authorization" element in prohibition on installing keylogging software "on the computer of another" -- the "without authority" element still applies, but that element is only an alternative to the "malicious intent" requirement.

DEAD (BY VARIOUS METHODS AND EUPHEMISMS):

Custody/Parenting Time

  • HB 485 Requires courts in custody and visitation cases to "when appropriate, assure frequent and continuing contact with each parent" -- BUT WATERED DOWN EVEN FURTHER TO MERELY ADD "when appropriate, frequent and continuing contact with each parent" TO THE LIST OF FACTORS TO CONSIDER. And even that was apparently too much for a majority of the House, who, in a move I haven't noticed before, approved the committee substitute for the bill but then voted against "engrossing" the bill instead of voting against passing it. I assume that kills it.
  • HB 350 Requires courts in custody and visitation cases to "when appropriate, assure frequent and continuing contact with each parent"
  • SB 571 Grandparent visitation when parent dead: factors court must consider, including parties' motivations
  • SB 431 Mental health professionals may not restrict parents' access to health records, or refuse to testify, as a condition of providing services.
  • SB 61 Using cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil on doctor's written advice shall not be the sole reason for denying or restricting custody, visitation, adoption or foster parenthood.
  • SB 872 Circuit or district court may appoint GAL in custody or visitation case, subject to standards, payment governed by Code § 16.1-267 which seems to provide for extremely low payment and to be designed for various other kinds of cases.

Support

  • SB 502 When child support is paid through Department of Social Services, the Department must pay the recipient even if the payor does not pay.
  • HB 82 Spousal support to be based net income, not gross; earning capacity may no longer be considered when determining spousal or child support; spousal support shall not exceed payor's net income.

Marriage

  • SB 19 Records of marriages shall not require identification of race.
  • HB 863 Person to perform marriage may be designated by marriage license applicant instead of by a judge's order; may perform it anywhere in the state; no bond required for such persons, nor for Quakers performing marriages; record of marriage may be filed by one of the newlyweds or the celebrant; no jail for performing unlicensed marriage or issuing unlawful marriage license.

Divorce

  • HB 291 Uniform Collaborative Law Act
  • SB 844 Computer trespass; expands the crime. No longer requires "malicious intent" if done "through intentionally deceptive means and without authority." Eliminates "without owner's authorization" element in prohibition on installing keylogging software "on the computer of another" -- the "without authority" element still applies, but that element is only an alternative to the "malicious intent" requirement. [Incorporated with SB 378]
  • HB 1530 No-fault divorce grounds corroboration requirement repealed

Adoption

Child Abuse/Foster Care

  • HB 580 Child abuse and neglect includes inflicting, creating, allowing or threatening any physical or mental injury based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • HB 289 Requires that interviews of child victims of alleged sexual abuse be conducted as a forensic interview at the local child advocacy center
  • HB 252 Causing or encouraging acts rendering children sexually abused; penalty.
  • HB 288 Criminal sexual assault; definition of sexual abuse, complaining witness under age 13
  • SB 32 Corporal punishment of a child with an object; penalty.
  • HB 920 State-Funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance program created to facilitate child placements with relatives, including "fictive kin", and ensure permanency for children in foster care. "Fictive kin" means persons who are not related to a child by blood or adoption but have an established relationship with the child or his family.
  • HB 809 Welfare department must investigate any report of child abuse and neglect by any "relative by blood, marriage, or adoption, caretaker, or other person with supervisory control over the child or responsible for his care or ... person who resides or is regularly present in the same household as the child."
  • HB 1051 Repeals "conscience clause" that allowed child-placing agencies to refuse to perform, assist with, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placements that violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.  Prohibits the Department of Social Services from contracting with or providing funds, directly or indirectly, to any child-placing agency that discriminates against the child or otherwise eligible prospective foster or adoptive parents on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or status as a veteran.
  • HB 673 Cruelty to children; increases penalty to a Class 4 felony.
  • SB 878 Court-appointed counsel for parents in child welfare cases to get additional compensation in the very low three figures
  • SB 501 Adoption and foster care home studies may be done by anyone who has completed the training program; regulations to be issued.

Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • SB 440 Electronic transmission of sexually explicit visual material by minor: misdemeanor, if the perpetrator is the only person in picture or if less than 10 pictures of another minor; alternative sentencing, rehabilitation programs, community service, avoiding permanent record or sex offender status.
  • HB 462 Certified sexual assault nurse examiners; Secretary of HHR to study shortage.
  • HB 251 Prostitution-related crimes; minors, including taking minors or spouse to "a bawdy place", expands sex offender registry, trafficking, pimping, racketeering

Domestic Violence/Protective Orders

  • HB 1001 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction, term of confinement.
  • HB 628 Lets courts sanction people for filing certain claims in retaliation for, or in order to discourage, actions taken by victims of violence to obtain an order of protection or to pursue criminal charges. This "includes any claim of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, or abuse of process that is filed in retaliation for or in order to chill, discourage, or limit any legitimate action taken by a victim of (i) family abuse; (ii) an act of violence, force, or threat; (iii) stalking; or (iv) sexual assault to obtain any order of protection or criminal charges based on such family abuse, act of violence, force, or threat, stalking, or sexual assault. Any such pleadings found by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack either justification in existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law shall be presumed to have been filed for an improper purpose."
  • SB 76 No guns for people under any protective orders, not just those for family violence. But keeps 24 hour grace period to transfer guns.
  • SB 145 Assault, assault and battery, or bodily wounding of a person protected by a protective order is a Class 6 felony. Currently, this is only if it results in serious bodily injury.
  • HB 159 Protective order may prohibit using any electronic device to remotely control anything in or around petitioner's home
  • HB 1077  Lets minors petition for a protective order on their own behalf
  • HB 498 Anyone with a permanent protective order will get a wallet-sized "Hope Card" with basic info about the order and the people it protects and restricts.
  • SB 82 Protective order; violation of order, armed with firearm or other deadly weapon.
  • SB 89 Protective orders; violation of order while armed with firearm or other deadly weapon, etc.
  • SB 372 Protective orders; possession of firearms, surrender or transfer of firearms, penalty.
  • SB 574 Protective orders; petitioning court on behalf of incapacitated persons.
  • SB 490 No guns after conviction of stalking, domestic violence or sex assault; criteria for restoring gun rights.
  • HB 867 Single-sex domestic violence shelters allowed.
  • HB 78 No guns after even one misdemeanor household-member assault & battery conviction; criteria for restoring gun rights.
  • HB 470 Protective orders; non-lawyer social services department employees can petition court for protective orders on behalf of incapacitated persons
  • HB 625 Redefines family abuse, as grounds for protective order, to include identity theft
  • HB 1288 No guns after two misdemeanor household-member assault and battery convictions; criteria for restoring gun rights.
  • HB 1182 Protective order may include temporary spousal support and restitution for property damage, medical bills and other financial loss caused by abuse.
  • SB 534 Anyone with a permanent protective order will get a wallet-sized "Hope Card" with basic info about the order and the people it protects and restricts.

Child Safety

  • HB 939 Public high schools must teach firearm safety education, and must do so without firearms.
  • S.B. 129 Public high schools must teach firearm safety education, and must do so without firearms.
  • HB 955 Children's online privacy protection; release of personal information prohibited.
  • SB 16 Assault firearms and certain firearm magazines; prohibiting sale, transport, etc., penalties.
  • SB 18 Firearms; restricting access under age 18, purchase under age 21
  • HB 72 Allowing access to firearms by children; recklessly leaving loaded, unsecured firearm. [incorporated into HB 1083]
  • SB 75 Minors; allowing access to firearms, penalty.
  • HB 463 Minors; allowing access to firearms [incorporated into HB 1083]
  • SB 117 Day care operated in homes needs license if caring for three or more children (current law is five)
  • SB 581 Minors; allowing access to firearms, Class 6 felony. Limits
  • HB 356 Child labor; employment of children on tobacco farms
  • HB 675 License restrictions for minors; use of handheld personal communications devices.
  • HB 853 Firearms; recklessly allowing access to certain persons (including minors, but with major exceptions, see Va. Code § 18.2-308.7)

Elder Law/Wills/Trusts/Probate

  • HB 736 State estate tax reinstated, unless most assets are in a working farm or closely held business
  • HB 96 Powers of attorney must be signed in presence of a witness or notary public
  • HB 76  In suits on written contracts subject to 5-year statute of limitations; if a potential party is a missing person judicially declared dead and the cause of action accrued after they went missing, executor of estate has one year from the declared-dead order to file suit.
  • HB 862 Guardianship; limits on how guardian may restrict communication with close relatives and friends; procedure and standards for courts to resolve disputes about such communication; guardian who restricts communication in bad faith or in his own interest may have to pay others' costs.
  • HB 304 Guardianship and conservatorship petitions must include identifying characteristics/description of the respondent, which shall be included in the information sent to the Criminal Records Exchange.
  • SB 352 Encourages avoiding guardianship and conservatorship when a "supported decision-making agreement" is feasible instead; GALs in adult guardianship cases must consider and report on that alternative.
  • HB 841 Guardianship suits: person it's about shall have right to counsel and to participate and be heard. If not represented, counsel must be appointed. 
  • HB 1321 Supported Decision-Making Act: allows an adult with an intellectual or developmental disability to enter into an agreement with another person, called a "supporter," who will assist the adult in making decisions to manage his affairs, giving them a less restrictive means of receiving assistance than being appointed a guardian or conservator by a court.
  • SB 308 Accounts filed by fiduciaries and reports filed by guardians must be signed under oath under penalty of felony perjury
  • SB 697 Execution of wills; requires the witnesses to be disinterested, meaning having no personal or beneficial interest in the will. Being a fiduciary, guardian or counsel does not prevent someone from being disinterested.
  • SB 359 Deed of gift of real estate requires title search for recordation
  • HB 331 No one particular clinical diagnosis automatically means you're incapacitated.
  • SB 1042 Wills; codifies common-law presumption of undue influence. There is a rebuttable presumption of undue influence on a testator if the testator (1) was mentally feeble when his will was made, (2) named a beneficiary who stood in a relationship of confidence or dependence to the testator; and (3) previously had expressed an intention to make a contrary disposition of his property.

Procedure

  • S.B. 663 All health practitioners must assist and cooperate with their patients' litigation and attorneys
  • SB 1060 For good cause shown or upon agreement of all parties, the court may dismiss a case without prejudice.  Plaintiff may re-file within the original period of limitation.
  • SB 334 Court Reporters to be licensed and regulated
  • HB 712 Lets legal notices appear in online publications [Incorporated into HB 588
  • HB 588 Lets legal notices appear in online publications
  • HB 95 Decisions that a person is not in contempt of court can be appealed to the Court of Appeals.
  • HJ 22 Study deficient/outdated training of substitute and retired district court judges
  • HB 163 Contempt of court "summary punishment" -- increases max penalty to 30 days
  • HB 1206 Court may order state payment of GAL for good cause shown in any civil case.
  • HB 401 Court-appointed counsel for parents in child welfare cases to get additional compensation in the very low three figures
  • SB 529 Slight change to hearsay exception for past statements by a person who is now dead or incompetent.

Education

  • HB 158 Tax deduction for K-12 school tuition or home instruction expenses
  • HB 332 Students must receive "rapid automatized naming" and "rapid alternating stimulus" (RAN/RAS") tests for dyslexia and other reading difficulties
  • HB 678 Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts
  • HB 1277 Public schools; reduces number of Standards of Learning assessments, report.
  • SB 390 Reduces Standards of Learning assessments to the federally-required minimum
  • HB 926 Income tax, state; credit for employer contributions to Virginia College Savings Plan accounts.
  • HB 223 Education, recommendations for improving civic education.
  • HB 197 Financial literacy objectives; study incorporating them into math SOL
  • HB 455 TANF (welfare) receiving families to get community college scholarships in pilot program

Health

  • HB 823 Health Insurance Premium Payment program coverage expanded
  • S.B. 858 to license and regulate naturopathic doctors
  • SB 104 Vaccinations and immunizations; certain minors given authority to consent.
  • HJ 18 Universal health care; study cost of implementing in the Commonwealth
  • HB 529 Universal health care; study options for financing.
  • SB 946 State medical-assistance funding for doulas' services.

Mental Health

  • HB 40 Public schools must have mental health break spaces
  • SB 315 Emergency rooms must screen for depression, provide info/referrals

LGBT Issues

  • HB 966 Limits regulation of Conversion Therapy to protect "the fundamental right of an individual to select for himself, based on an informed and voluntary choice, a form of counseling that involves nothing more than 'talk therapy,' regardless of the age of the individual, including in situations where the patient is seeking such counseling to assist him in reducing or eliminating unwanted attractions or behaviors or concerns about gender identity."

Military Families

  • HB 930 Military service members' and veterans' spouses: expediting the issuance of professional credentials [Was incorporated into HB 967]

Abortion

  •  SJ 2 Constitutional amendment; right to personal reproductive liberty
  • HB 1473 Surrogacy contract provisions requiring abortion or selective reduction unenforceable, void, against state public policy.
  • S.B. 635 Right to reproductive choice, fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or abortion. Even for persons under state control or supervision. Any state or local official charged with violating this can be sued in state or federal court, for injunction or damages, by any person or entity.
  • SB 21 Abortion; repeal of parental/judicial consent requirement for minors, and other restrictions (incorporated into SB733)
  • HB 1445 All health insurance plans must cover abortion, contraception and many other "reproductive health" and women's health services. Extremely narrow exception for "religious employers".
  • HB 526 All health insurance plans must cover contraception and many other "reproductive health" and women's health services. Covering abortion is required when mother's life endangered or after rape or incest. Extremely narrow exception for "religious employers".
  • SB 917 All health insurance plans, including state ones, must cover abortion, voluntary sterilization, genetic mutation screening/counseling, domestic violence screening/counseling, STDs, all forms of contraception, and many other "reproductive health" and women's health services. A very few strictly-defined "religious employers" might get an exception from abortion-funding requirement.
  • SB 920 Surrogacy contract provisions requiring, or prohibiting, abortion or selective reduction are unenforceable, void, against state public policy.

Criminal


Teasingest headline ever in Virginia Lawyers Weekly: "No-fault divorce law unconstitutional, judge rules"

No-fault divorce law unconstitutional, judge rules

 September 9, 2019 - Virginia Lawyers Weekly

(Actually, what Fairfax judge Steven Shannon ruled was that in a husband-free marriage, it was unconstitutional for the law to require that a “husband and wife” live apart in order to qualify for a divorce. He said he could invalidate the law providing for no-fault divorces until the legislature fixed it, but it would be more consistent with the law's purpose for him to extend its "benefits" to include same-sex couples instead.)


Governor approves 11 of 12 bills reforming family law, offers substitute for domestic violence bill

GOVERNOR PROPOSED SUBSTITUTE INSTEAD OF APPROVING:

SUBSTITUTE FOR:

  • HB 2042 Assault and battery against a family or household member; prior conviction; mandatory minimum term of confinement. Provides that upon a conviction for assault and battery against a family or household member, where it is alleged in the warrant, petition, information, or indictment on which a person is convicted, that such person has been previously convicted of an offense that occurred within a period of 20 years of the instant offense against a family or household member of (i) assault and battery against a family or household member, (ii) malicious wounding or unlawful wounding, (iii) aggravated malicious wounding, (iv) malicious bodily injury by means of a substance, (v) strangulation, or (vi) an offense under the law of any other jurisdiction which has the same elements of any of the above offenses is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of 60 days. Amended, PREVIOUSLY final version in Conference report.

 

APPROVED BY GOVERNOR:

  • HB 1945/SB 1541 No-fault divorce; waiver of service of process may be signed before suit filed. Clarifies that in the case of a no-fault divorce, waivers of service of process may occur within a reasonable time prior to or after the suit is filed, provided that a copy of the complaint is attached to such waiver, or otherwise provided to the defendant, and the final decree of divorce as proposed by the complainant is signed by the defendant. Where a defendant has waived service of process and, where applicable, notice, the bill further permits depositions to be taken, affidavits to be given, and all papers related to the divorce proceeding to be filed contemporaneously. Bill text as passed Senate and House.
  • SB 1144 Guardianship; annual report filed by guardian. Provides that, upon receiving notice from the local department of social services that a guardian has not filed the required annual report within the prescribed time limit, the court may issue a summons or rule to show cause why the guardian has failed to file such report.
  • SB 1307 Uniform Transfers to Minors Act; transfer of property; age 25. Permits a transferor to transfer property under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act to an individual under the age of 21 to be paid, conveyed, or transferred to such individual upon his attaining 25 years of age, unless the minor attaining age 21 years of age delivers a written request therefor to the custodian. Under current law, such property must be paid, conveyed, or transferred upon the individual's attaining 18 years of age, or 21 years of age if specifically requested by the custodian.
  • SB 1186 Financial institution; payment or delivery of small asset by affidavit, check, etc. Provides that a financial institution accepting a small asset that is a check, draft, or other negotiable instrument presented by an affidavit is discharged from all claims for the amount accepted.
  • HB 1979 Assisted conception; amends statute to provide gender-neutral terminology, etc. Allows an unmarried individual to be an intended parent, paralleling the ability of an unmarried individual to adopt under the adoption statutes. Allows for the use of an embryo subject to the legal or contractual custody of an intended parent in a surrogacy arrangement. 
  • HB 1988 Military retirement benefits; marital share. Requires that the determination of military retirement benefits in a divorce be made in accordance with the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (10 U.S.C. 1408 et seq.).
  • HB 2059 Nonpayment of child support; amount of arrearage paid; time period to pay arrearage; repayment schedule; suspension of driver's license. Provides that an individual who is delinquent in child support payments or has failed to comply with a subpoena, summons, or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings is entitled to a judicial hearing if he makes a written request within 30 days from service of a notice of intent to suspend or renew his driver's license. Current law provides such an entitlement if such request is made within 10 days from such notice. The bill further allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew a driver's license or terminate a license suspension imposed on an individual if such individual has reached an agreement with the Department of Social Services to satisfy the child support payment delinquency within a 10-year period and has made at least one payment of at least five percent of the total delinquency or $600, whichever is less, as opposed to whichever is greater under current law, under such agreement. The bill further provides that, where such a repayment agreement has been entered into and such an individual has failed to comply with such agreement, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall suspend or refuse to renew such individual's driver's license until it has received certification from the Department of Social Services that such individual has entered into a subsequent agreement to pay within a period of seven years and has paid the lesser amount, as opposed to greater amount under current law, of at least one payment of $1,200 or seven percent, as opposed to five percent under current law, of the current delinquency. The bill provides that an individual who fails to comply with such a subsequent agreement may enter into a new agreement if such individual has made a payment in the lesser amount, as opposed to the greater amount under current law, of $1,800 or 10 percent, as opposed to five percent under current law, and agrees to a repayment schedule of not more than seven years, which is consistent with the timeframe provided by the current law. Amended text as passed House and Senate.
  • HB 2317 Custody and visitation orders; exchange of child; history of family abuse; law-enforcement officers. Provides that in custody and visitation cases, at the request of either party, the court may order that the exchange of a child take place at an appropriate meeting place. Amended  text as passed House and Senate.
  • HB 2542 Temporary delegation of parental or legal custodial powers; child-placing agency. Allows a parent or legal custodian of a minor to delegate to another person by a properly executed power of attorney any powers regarding care, custody, or property of the minor for a period not exceeding 180 days. The bill provides that a parent or legal custodian who is a service member, as defined in the bill, may delegate such powers for a period of longer than 180 days while on active duty service, but specifies that such a period is not to exceed such active duty service plus 30 days. The bill provides that any such power of attorney shall be signed by all persons with authority to make decisions concerning the child, the person to whom powers are delegated under the power of attorney, and a representative of a licensed child-placing agency that assists parents and legal guardians with the process of delegating parental and legal custodial powers of their children. The bill specifies that such licensed child-placing agency will be subject to background checks and must develop and implement written policies for certain services and provide staff and provider training. The bill further requires that any person to whom any such powers are delegated shall comply with background check requirements established by regulations of the Board of Social Services or otherwise provided by law.
  • HB 1944/SB 1542 Civil actions; determination of indigency.  In a no-fault divorce proceeding, a person who is a current recipient of a state or federally funded public assistance program for the indigent shall not be subject to fees and costs, and  shall certify to the receipt of such benefits under oath.  House substitute agreed to by Senate.
  • SB 1758 Specific findings of fact; Custody and visitation cases; jurisdiction of court. Allows a circuit or district court in which there is a proceeding related to the custody or visitation of a child, upon the request of any party, to make any finding of fact required by state or federal law to permit such minor to apply for a state or federal benefit. Passed with House subcommittee amendments and substitutesSenate amendments, Conference amendments.

2018 Va. family law legislation: Alimony, court reporter reform, abuse prevention, child support, inheritance, violence, legalized adultery?

UPDATED APRIL 10, 2018

MODIFICATION BY THE GOVERNOR 

  •  HB 1351 Joint legal or physical child custody; custody and visitation decisions, communication to parties. Governor added: In any case or proceeding involving the custody or visitation of a child, to enable the child to apply for a state or federal benefit and upon the request of any party, the court shall make any finding of fact required by state or federal law in order for the child to receive such benefit. The existing language, which the Governor did not change, is: "The court shall consider and may award joint legal, joint physical, or sole custody, and there shall be no presumption in favor of any form of custody."  The bill's original text, completely replaced as it went through both houses, was, "The consideration of "joint physical custody" means the court shall consider custody and visitation arrangements that are reasonably constructed to maximize a child's time with each parent to the greatest extent possible in the child's best interests." At least the statute still says, "The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children." 

ENACTED, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

KILLED (incl. passed by, stricken, tabled, continued to next year ...)

  • HB 599 Child support; nonpayment, amount of arrearage paid, suspension of driver's license.
  • HB 1223 Erin's Law, having schools educate children to recognize, resist and report molestation
  • HB 661 Assault and battery against a family or household member; enhanced, penalty. [Passed house, passed senate with substitute,  each house insisted on its own version, time ran out for Conference Committee]
  • HB 411 Assisted conception; gender-neutral as to same-sex.
  • HB 998 Parental or legal custodial powers, temporary delegation of; child-placing agency. [Passed House, continued to 2019 in Senate committee]
  • HB 807 Custody and visitation agreements; best interests of the child, violent abuse of other family members
  • HB 412 Marriage-related criminal laws; gender-neutral terms, adultery repeal, penalty.
  • HB 413 Adoption; gender-neutral as to same-sex.
  • HB 414 Same-sex marriage; marriage laws, gender-neutral terms.
  • HB 478 Domestic violence-related misdemeanors; enhanced, penalty.
  • HB 1237 Assault and battery against a family or household member; first offense, enhanced penalty.
  • HB 149 Child support order payee; change in physical custody of child, orders involving DSS.
  • HB 1331 Child support; review of guidelines federal compliance.
  • SB 64 Custody and visitation decisions; communication to parties required in writing.
  • SB 70 Custody and visitation; rights of parents with a disability.
  • SB 178 Parental or legal custodial powers, temporary delegation of; child-placing agency.
  • SB 596 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course.
  • SB 603 Same-sex marriage; gender-neutral terms.
  • SB 612 Assisted conception; parentage presumption.
  • SB 727 FOIA; exemptions for courts of record, courts not of records and Office of the Executive Secretary
  • SB 938 Child support; withholding of income, contracts with an independent contractor.
  • HB 216 Guardians, licensed physician, etc.; annual reports to include medical examination.
  • HB 383 Missing-heir search firms; void contracts.
  • HB 406 Guardianship; protects communication between incapacitated persons & others, notification of relatives.
  • HB 406 Guardianship; communication between incapacitated persons & others, notification of relatives.
  • HB 1403 Electronic wills; requirements.
  • HB 1565 Presumption of death; missing person reports.

 Compiled by John Crouch, updated by John Crouch and Sarah Araman


Alabama senate votes to abolish marriage licensing, celebration requirement, but NOT to separate marriage and state

Alabama's Senate has once again passed this bill, now numbered SB 13. It does not separate marriage from government, but couples will now simply register their marriages with the courts, instead of asking the courts to license them and having to have them formally celebrated and then recorded with the court. Having the marriage celebrated will be optional and the government will not be involved with that. But the state would still keep track of who is married, to the limited extent that it already does. Marriage would still have many legal consequences, including laws on bigamy, divorce and taxes.

UPDATE: It was approved Jan. 25 by a House Committee with an amendment that does not change what it does. Track its progress here.

Similar bills passed the Senate in 2016 and 2017, and one passed Oklahoma's House in 2015.

Currently, all U.S. states require marriage licenses. There is some disastrous misinformation out there saying that not all do, but that is based on some states recognizing common-law marriage, which is very different and can take years to establish; it is no sure substitute for licensing when you want to get married.

 


Is family breakdown the main cause of the worst excesses of "identity politics"?

Legions of critics endlessly cite the logical flaws and dangers of "Identity Politics" on the left and even on the right, but as Mary Eberstadt points out, they overlook that emotionally, it's deeply authentic and heartfelt. Indeed, it has become the key to its believers' personal identities.

Now, in some ways, politics has always been about identity, but it's been based on identities that people could take for granted and don't have to prove and constantly have affirmed: first, family; then place, religion, and ethnicity. And Americans have always formed like-minded, politically-active voluntary groups, including ones based on minority race and ethnicity.

But looking for the causes of the surging rage and occasional mass hysteria that now swirls around I.P., Eberstadt notes that the normal sources of "identity" throughout history, especially family, have lost most of their power and permanence. We have far fewer people whom we consider "family" in the sense of loyalty, commonality, permanence, and identity. And you don't have to share Eberstadt's traditional Catholic views of sexual and family issues to be concerned about the breakdown of families and what rough beasts are emerging to replace them.