Family Law Section

Cassandra M. Chin, Chair

The Family Law Section remains the third largest section of the VSB.  We began the fiscal year with 1,811 members and ended with 2,041 members.  We continually strive to increase our membership by offering quality CLE programs, a renowned quarterly newsletter, and other publications to assist both attorneys and the general public.  In addition, this year we strived to expand our presence into social media and to improve the functionality of our website.

In October 2012, the Family Law Section presented the 31st Annual Family Law Seminar: Challenging Issues in Today's Family Law Practice, co-sponsored by Virginia CLE.  The seminar was live in four locations: Fairfax, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Norfolk.  We offered video replays in six locations in November.  Board members Charles E. Powers and Carl J. Witmeyer II planned a very informative program that addressed the topics of Grandparent Custody and Visitation Rights, Dealing With Difficult Clients, and the New “Rules” of Evidence in Family Law Cases.

Also in October 2012, our section received preliminary approval from the VSB to create a Family Law Section Facebook group page and the board of governors unanimously approved a motion to name the Family Law Section Lifetime Achievement Award “The Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award.”  Betty A. Thompson was the first chair of the section after it was created in 1978, as well as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.  Although she passed away in 2012 at the age of 88, she will be remembered as an icon and pioneer in the field of family law. 

In November 2012, board member Rich Garriott represented the Family Law Section at the Virginia State Bar 39th Annual Midyear Legal Seminar in Rome, Italy, presenting a CLE titled,Navigating Storm Waters in a Leaky Vessel: Using Good Discovery and Trial Skills to Try A High Conflict Divorce/Custody Case with a Difficult Client.”

In February 2013, the Family Law Section Facebook group page was launched.  The group page was created to provide members with an outlet to mentor and exchange ideas with other attorneys, to receive and exchange information about section activities and events, and to receive and exchange information relevant to family, domestic relations, and juvenile law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Once they join, section members may post information, events, and photographs relevant to other section members.  At present, the Facebook Group has 112 members.

In April 2013, the Family Law Section cosponsored with Virginia CLE the 29th Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar: Understanding, Handling, and Protecting Your Client’s Assets.  During this seminar, the section presented the 2013 Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award to Ronald R. Tweel.  As always, the program was well-attended and well received.  The program was planned by board members Nan M. Joseph and William C. Scott IV, who secured excellent speakers on the topics of Advanced Issues in Divorce Tax, as well as Bankruptcy and Divorce.

This year, the Family Law Section again produced four quarterly issues of our newsletter, the Family Law News, edited by Richard and John Crouch.  Family Law News continues to be one of the most valuable benefits of section membership.  Each issue contained informative and timely articles on recent family law topics, as well as summaries of noteworthy family law cases.

At its annual meeting, the Family Law Section elected the following officers for 2013-14:

  • Carl J. Witmeyer II, chair
  • Richard Garriott Jr., vice-chair
  • Charles E. Powers, secretary
  • Cassandra M. Chin will serve as immediate past chair

New members were elected to the board as follows: Christopher Malinowski (Fairfax), Mary Commander (Norfolk), John Huntington (Christianburg), Judge Richard Wallerstein Jr. (Circuit Court, Henrico County), and Judge Glen Huff (Court of Appeals of Virginia). These members succeed board members Cassandra Chin, Richard Garriott, William Scott IV, Judge Frederick Rockwell III, and Judge Rossie Alston Jr.

Last but not least, the Family Law Section thanks our VSB staff liaison, Dolly C. Shaffner, for always going above and beyond to assist the Family Law Section in so many ways.



Updated: Jul 10, 2013