Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Family Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Chair’s Message

Larry Vance, Esquire

I would like to thank the members of the Board for their dedicated work during my tenure as Chair; they are a great group of lawyers and advocates for the advancement of the Section. Thanks also goes to all the Board and Section members who gave of their time to produce top quality Continuing Legal Education programs last Fall and in April. We continued to improve the attendance at all of our CLEs, but I am most happy to have had over 220 attendees at the Sections’ Advanced Family CLE in Richmond this April. It was a wonderful well-planned program.

It was six years ago, just as I joined this Board, that the first discussions were had on quantifying concerns over the vast differences in Guardian Ad Litem performance by region, by court and with individual courts, with an eye toward shining a light on those concerns to the stakeholders who had the power to make reforms. The process of transmitting the opinions of the Section – expressed in response to our survey – may have ruffled a few feathers, but the result of making those concerns known was seen in the halls of the legislature and at the Supreme Court this year.

Judges now have a statutory mechanism to regulate those Guardians Ad Litem who fail to meet the expectations of the standards. The Office of the Executive Secretary has promulgated a reporting form that, while not mandatory, will assist judges with that legislative mandate. Additionally, JDR Judges recently had additional training on Guardian Ad Litem accountability and the Judicial Council revised the standards to clarify the responsibilities of a Guardian Ad Litem while preserving professional their independence to advocate for their ward within those standards.

I want to extend my best wishes to Mary Commander as she starts her year as Chair of the Section. Mary is well known in Tidewater as well as throughout the Commonwealth. Mary brings a vast amount of experience in Family Law and a calm well-grounded attitude to her new role on the Board. We all should look forward to a great year under her leadership.

Larry Vance, Chair
Family Law Section