Public Comments for 01/15/2021 Courts of Justice - Subcommittee #2
HB1802 - Local government attorneys; prohibiting the handling of matters related to certain wills.
HB1814 - Garnishment of wages; protected portion of disposable earnings.
HB1814 makes a small change to Virginia’s law that exempts enough wages from a creditor’s garnishment so that the worker can keep at least the minimum wage. • Under current law, when a worker’s wages are garnished, enough wages are exempt from deduction to allow the worker to take home the federal minimum wage. • This legislation updates this law to give the worker the benefit of the state minimum wage if it is higher than the federal minimum wage. This law will prevent creditors from pushing consumers and their families into poverty. Exemption laws preserve basic items of property from seizure by creditors so that consumers can continue to work productively and support themselves and their families. Creditors can still collect their debts, but workers can protect enough wages to survive.
HB1852 - Uniform Collaborative Law Act; created.
Adopting the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) in the Commonwealth of Virginia What is it? Collaborative Law involves two attorneys trained in the Collaborative Process working in a series of settlement meetings with their respective clients who have signed a Collaborative Participation Agreement, which, among other things, removes the threat of litigation while in the process. The process often utilizes mental health professionals and financial professionals who have been trained in the Collaborative Process at such meetings to help resolve complex emotional, child-related, and/or financial issues. • The Uniform Law Commission approved the Uniform Collaborative Law Act for enactment in 2010. The purpose of the ULC, as a non-partisan commission, is to draft legislation that will bring consistency and clarity to the laws governing the same practices occurring in different states. • Approximately 1000 Collaborative Professionals have been trained in Virginia since 2004 and most of those professionals are attorneys practicing in Virginia and resolving family disputes. • Collaborative Law is presently practiced in all 50 states and 25 countries. • UCLA is enacted already in some form in at least 20 states. Why we need it: A dispute resolution option for restructuring families without court intervention. It is distinct from mediation and a beneficial alternative for clients and their attorneys. Significant benefits of Collaborative Law for families include: • A team of processionals work with clients to resolve issues arising from separation and divorce • Collaboratively trained attorneys are present for their clients throughout the process • Zealous advocacy to assist with client’s goals yet using a respectful, non-adversarial approach • No pressured settlements on the “eve of trial” • Children benefit from the reduced conflict and co-parenting relationships are healthier • Costs are likely reduced, not only financial costs but emotional costs as well • Results in durable lasting agreements so parties are less likely to seek future court intervention Significant advantages of the UCLA for the public include: • Informed consent requirements are clearly set forth • Minimum requirements for the Collaborative Participation Agreement are established • Specific definitions for the beginning and the end of Process are provided • Availability of emergency orders by a court if they are needed • Mandatory domestic violence screening • Additional considerations for low-income clients • A clearly enforceable evidentiary privilege (modeled on the Uniform Mediation Act) • Clear and consistent expectations for attorneys practicing Collaborative Law Significant advantages of the UCLA for the Court system include: • Getting more families out of the judicial system and into a process to resolve disputes respectfully • Reducing judges’ family law case load which frees their time to attend to other matters and schedule other hearings/trials sooner • Offers families another peaceful resolution process that results in durable agreements and promotes healthier relationships between parents • Promotes the public policy to preserve relationships • Preserving relationships promotes a healthier citizenship
HB1853 - Lawyers; client accounts.
HB1897 - Summons for unlawful detainer; notice to tenant, adverse employment actions prohibited.
The Virginia Education Association (VEA) supports HB1897 by Delegate Jenkins. We urge the committee to report favorably to advance HB1897. Thank you.
On behalf of the Virginia Apartment and Management Association (VAMA) and the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington, I write to ask your support for H.B. 1897. Delegate Jenkins’ bill has been added to the docket for tomorrow’s House Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee meeting. Virginia Code Section §18.2-465.1 prevents an employer from retaliating against an employee for appearing in court. Yet, tenant advocacy groups report that many tenants facing eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic have failed to appear in court in response to a summons for unlawful detainer for fear of losing their jobs. H.B. 1897 is intended to help educate tenants of the protections afforded to them in existing code by including such information directly on the actual summons for unlawful detainer form. H.B. 1897 does not substantively change the protections afforded to tenants. It simply adds it to the form that tenants receive when facing an eviction to help ensure that they are aware of their rights. I hope that you will vote to report H.B. 1897 to the full Courts of Justice Committee. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. Brian M. Gordon, MPA Vice President, Government Affairs, Virginia Apartment & Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington 1025 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1005 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 296-3390 (703) 307-0564 mobile
HB1911 - No-fault divorce; corroboration requirement.
Virginia Poverty Law Center is in support of this bill. The Witness affidavit for uncontested divorce seems essentially a legal fiction, as the witness attests to things they know only second hand. It also jams up the many low-income pro se individuals who file their own divorces, as they must coordinate not only their own complaint and affidavit, as well as separation agreements, custody arrangements, and child support orders, but also the affidavit of their witness--and then arrange for service on their spouse. Often, by the time they have accomplished all these things, the notarized affidavit is deemed by the court to be "stale" and they must go through the process all over again. The Witness Affidavit is an artifact that does not appear to serve a useful purpose in the context of uncontested divorce.
HB1775 - State Corporation Commission; access to local land records.