Family Law Section

Andrea R. Stiles, chair

The Family Law Section had a busy and exciting year. We received a substantial grant from the Virginia Law Foundation to remake a DVD titled Spare the Child, which will be distributed to courts throughout the state for use in parent education programs. Spare the Child will benefit thousands of families by helping them understand transition issues and stress that their children experience in divorce, custody and visitation disputes. The section expects to begin filming the DVD in fall 2009.

As is the section’s tradition, we produced a number of outstanding continuing legal education programs.

In October 2008, the section presented the Twenty-seventh Annual Family Law Seminar, which focused on trial advocacy issues. This highly successful seminar outlined practical and unique trial tips for the family law practitioner. The program was presented in Richmond, Fairfax, Norfolk, and Roanoke.

The Family Law Section was selected by the Virginia State Bar to present a program at the Thirty-fifth Annual Midyear Legal Seminar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in November 2008. Vice Chair Peter W. Buchbauer and Chair Andrea R. Stiles presented a seminar, “Family Law Matters: When Family Law Intersects with Other Practice Areas.” The seminar was attended by lawyers and judges from across the state, and we received great reviews.

In April 2009, the section cosponsored with Virginia CLE the Twenty-fifth Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar, held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. The seminar focused on the unique issues family law attorneys face when dealing with divorces in an economic downturn. The seminar was well-attended and video replays are being offered throughout the state.

At the VSB Annual Meeting in June 2009, our section cosponsored with the Legal Ethics Committee and the Criminal Law Section a program focused on the ethics, admissibility, and criminal law implications for electronic evidence.

The section published four quarterly issues of the Family Law News, edited by Richard Crouch. The Family Law News contains timely articles and provides helpful summaries of recent important cases. Mr. Crouch deserves accolades for his hours of service over many years and for his excellence in editing and publishing the newsletter.

The section published four articles in the June-July 2009 edition of Virginia Lawyer. The authors’ time and effort are appreciated.

VSB President Manuel A. “Manny” Capsalis requested each VSB section to create a five-year plan. An ad hoc committee chaired by Mr. Buchbauer developed the foundation of the Family Law Section’s plan. We reviewed our bylaws and received input from all board members to develop goals for the section. Our five-year plan emphasizes using technology to improve communication and education for members; providing appropriate resources for education of the general public; creating and disseminating the Spare the Child DVD and translating it into Spanish; and creating a website for professionals and the general public.

With the support of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, we continued our tradition of recognizing the outstanding family law graduates from each of the eight Virginia law schools. This award is presented annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding potential and interest in family law. The winners are selected by their law school faculty and at graduation are presented with a framed certificate and special-edition book provided by Thomson West.

In 2009 the section board of governors presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Advanced Family Law Seminar in Richmond to law Professor Peter N. Swisher of the University of Richmond, who has influenced thousands of students throughout his career. Also at that seminar, we presented a resolution in memory of Professor Robert E. Shepherd Jr. to Dean John G. Douglass of the University of Richmond School of Law, in honor of Professor Shepherd’s faithful and dedicated service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. At the VSB Annual Meeting, the Family Law Service Award was presented to Anne B. Holton, First Lady of Virginia, for her creation of the For Keeps foster care initiative. Information about the awards and past recipients is available on the section’s website,

Section officers for 2009-10 are:

  • Peter W. Buchbauer, chair
  • Mitchell D. Broudy, vice chair
  • Frank W. Rogers III, secretary
Updated: Sep 03, 2009