Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Family Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Section News and Information

September 16, 2020

Chair’s Message

Steve Raynor

One of the more important, but least understood, organizations involved with Virginia family law is the Virginia Family Law Coalition (the “Coalition”). Former Family Law Section Chair Frank Rogers addressed the Coalition in a Chair’s message published some years ago. As is common for lawyers, I have gratefully reused some of Frank’s content.

As a part of the Virginia State Bar, the Family Law Section is not permitted to lobby the Virginia General Assembly. So, to provide a voice for family law attorneys (and the public we serve), the Coalition of Lawyer Organizations on Family Law Legislation was formed in 1996. Betty Thompson led the organization (the predecessor of the current Coalition) from its inception in 1996 until 2008.

In 2008, the predecessor group was restructured into the current Coalition as part of a unique partnership between the Virginia Bar Association (“VBA”) and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (“VTLA”). The Coalition was effectively led from 2008 until 2019 by Cheshire Eveleigh, who stepped down when she went on the bench. Dan Gray is the current Chair.

The Coalition includes approximately 20 regular members consisting of leading family law attorneys from around the state; representatives of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the VBA, the VTLA, and the Virginia State Bar Family Law Section (all in a non-voting capacity); and a special advisor on child support issues. The Coalition’s work would not be possible without the able assistance of the VBA’s and VTLA’s lobbyists. A Coalition membership roster is available on the VBA website.

The Coalition serves three primary functions. First, the Coalition champions new legislation or changes to existing family law legislation. Legislative changes may be suggested to the Coalition by the Boyd-Graves Conference, Coalition members, legislators, family law attorneys, or members of the public. Second, the Coalition opposes or works to remedy problematic legislative initiatives. Third, the Coalition serves as a resource on family law issues for members of the General Assembly and their staffs. Coalition members routinely receive calls regarding pending legislation, and members regularly appear before House and Senate committees and subcommittees to testify regarding legislation that the Coalition formally supports or opposes.

The Coalition typically meets twice per year, and there are ongoing communications among members leading up to and during legislative sessions. The Chair and active members devote a significant amount of time and effort to the Coalition each year.

On behalf of the Section, I thank all current and former leaders and members of the Coalition for their valuable service in working to improve Virginia family law. If you have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the Coalition. Thank you.

Steve Raynor