Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Courts of Justice - Civil Subcommittee
HB1802 - Local government attorneys; prohibiting the handling of matters related to certain wills.
HB1882 - Deeds of trust; amendment to loan document, statement of interest rate of a refinanced mortgage.
HB1912 - Child support payments; juvenile in custody of or committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
I want to give my support of HD1912. RISE for Youth is one of the community partners Moms Demand Action works closely with to understand the intersections of childhood trauma and gun violence. The Department of Juvenile Justice has moved the majority of these youth, who are 70% Black youth, out to an area of VA that makes it impossible for their families to visit or participate in any sort of trauma counseling. We put already impoverished parents in the outrageous position to pay the state to incarcerate their children. We must stop causing further stress and harm to these children and their families. Ending this child support is a giant step in the right direction. Thank you!
The current collection of "Child Support" from parents is not to support children at all, it is a tax on parents who are already paying taxes to the state of Virginia to maintain a correction system. And if this so called child support was going to support incarcerated children in any way, it wouldn't be such a blow to parents, but according to the comptroller for the Department of Juvenile Justice, these funds collected just go into the general coffers of DJJ. In 2018, the allocated budget for DJJ was $214M; the amount collected from parents that year was .02 percent of the total DJJ budget, which in essence is budget dust. But while those funds are budget dust to DJJ, they have a huge impact on low income families who have already had their child taken from them. The economic and social impact of these collected funds is detrimental to these families. The way in which these funds are determined for each family is also completely unfair; the table used to determine the amount of funds a family has to pay is based on the same table used to determine child support after parents divorce. But when parents divorce, only one parent has to pay so that the child can live with the other parent in a way in which they were accustomed to before the divorce. The incarcerated youth child support is collected from both parents as if they were the supporting parent. When I pointed this out to our juvenile judge for this area, not only was she not aware that parents were being charged this "tax", but she stated that this beyond double taxation, it was more like quadruple taxation. My final point on this matter was that in one of the Governor's initial press conference after the shut down of the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he stated that during the economic conditions caused by the pandemic, that parents already struggling to get by should not have to pay these funds, and he was going to work to make that happen, yet those families are still paying each month. It is time for the legislature to act to get help families today and in the future.
RISE for Youth supports this bill and urges the committee to act favorably on HB 1912. It is truly outrageous that our Commonwealth charges families to incarcerate their children. We already know that Black and brown youth are disproportionately impacted by our criminal justice system and this financial burden, which is then placed disproportionately on Black and brown families, exacerbates the racial wealth gap and places a tremendous strain on families at an already difficult time. We must end this appalling practice.
Families with youth under the age of 18 must pay child support to the Department of Juvenile Justice when they are in juvenile prison. However, these parents have no control over the quality of services their child receives while in prison. Research shows that financial obligations in the juvenile system increase youth recidivism, and black youth in Virginia are four times as likely to be detained as white youth. Virginia has the chance to join a growing number of states passing legislation eliminating the requirement that parents pay child support when their children are incarcerated.
HB2002 - Child support; health care coverage, eligibility requirements.
Why would you force a vaccine when hyrdroechloraquin and other drugs heal people. CDC says 99.9% of people recover. Why are you using the tool of fear. What is in it for you. It’s being said that covid is just the first part of this bio weapon. The next part will kill those who were diagnosed with it. If you keep this up there won’t be any one to vote. Oh that’s right. Depopulation is part of the plan. You reap what you sow.
I write to express the concerns of the juvenile and domestic relations court judges who have reviewed House Bill 2002. Although we do not have an official position yet, a committee of judges who reviewed this bill has recommended opposing this bill for the following reasons. 1. The bill is burdensome on the courts as it would place the requirement on the JDR and circuit courts to perform a function that is more properly that of the Executive Branch and one which an Executive Branch agency is required to perform: determination of Medicaid eligibility. Judges and courts do not have the time or the resources to perform this function. 2. The requirement for courts to compare public and private insurance coverage plans that may be available to families is a function outside the role of judges. Judges make findings and rulings based on the evidence presented by the parties. If the parties do not submit the relevant evidence, judges would have to look outside the record before them for the pertinent information to make these determinations. 3. Performing these functions would cause delays in the entry of final support orders, increase the use of pendente lite orders, and increase the number of hearings required to dispose of support cases, burdening the courts’ resources and interfering with the administration of justice for other litigants. 4. Requiring the court to perform these functions would also deprive the family of the choice of having their child on private medical insurance rather than public health insurance.
HB2041 - Best interests of the child; assuring frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
If there is a high conflict parent in the relationship a 50/50 relationship can be damaging to the child's development. Most cases heard in court are due to a partner being high conflict. Until there is education to the courts about how detrimental a personality like this can be to a child's best interests we should not move to unanimously change the bill. High conflict personalities are more interested in winning at any costs and present themselves as a wolf in sheep's clothing, once they win the children they fought to get are now cast aside. More research and education should also be done before we use terms like parental alienation. The history of this term was originally created by a pedophile using it to create doubt in the parents and explain away what the children already knew, that this person is "bad". We need to listen to the child and focus on their rights and not what the parents want. Trained judges are where we should be putting our focus before we worry about changing bills.
I had submitted a written comments yesterday, but I never got a link to speak… Thus, I’m doing it again here. I oppose HB2041 and have sent my talking points to all subcommittee members and the patron
Please oppose HB2041 (Davis) This piece of legislation would establish a 50-50 custody standard as a template for custody decisions. It is unnecessary and not in the best interest of children. Cases that go to court are usually cases that have a great deal of conflict since they have not been settled through mediation or other means, Imposing an overlay of equal parental time on this type of case seems unreasonable and such a plan can easily become a vehicle for more conflict. Also, 50-50 custody means no child support. The caretaker parent typically makes less money because they have made career sacrifices in order to be caretakers for their children. This change would in most cases would have the greatest impact on the caretaker parent that typically makes less money. Judges are well aware of the concept of equal parental custodial rights and have the power to do this on their own if they feel it is necessary or important. Each case is different and making this a mandate for consideration, limits the flexibility of judicial decisions and ultimately the ability of the courts to do what is in the best interest of children. On behalf of Champions for Children: Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads, I am writing to respectfully ask you to oppose this legislation.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee for hearing my testimony today. My name is Megan Mancillas and I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Prince William County, advocating for abused or neglected children in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. I am also a mother of three, and up until four years ago, I did not believe shared parenting would be in the best interest of my own children. When I separated from my husband I had been a stay at home mom for over 12 years, and no one could convince me that they could do my job even half as well as I could. The evidence regarding shared parenting is overwhelmingly in support of it, so I reluctantly agreed to a shared parenting schedule that worked for both of us. It’s been four years, and my children are flourishing. My ex-husband and I do not always agree, but shared parenting has helped to level the playing field so that we must work together to raise our kids. It’s clear attorneys make much more money by maintaining the status quo, causing divorcing parties to fight endlessly, even to the detriment of the children. But that should not be the thing that ultimately prevents this legislative body from doing the best thing for children and the parents who love them. There are some attorneys from the Family Law Coalition that you will hear from today who oppose this bill. But the data clearly points to better outcomes for children when time with both parents is maximized—and common sense dictates that limiting conflict is ALWAYS in the best interests of the children. If the Family Law Coalition wants to demonstrate that it’s not just a guild for attorneys, but truly does support the public through law reform, then they will support this bill. I urge you to listen to the growing number of family law attorneys who support this kind of legislation because it is in the best interest of children and limits conflict. You will hear from that contingent today, as well. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: As a Guardian ad Litem for more than 15 years, as well as an advocate for parties in hundreds of custody cases, I have seen first hand the devastation that results when parents use antiquated “norms” to deprive each other of meaningful contact with their children. When there is no rational reason to deny an appropriate parent-child relationship, some parties or unscrupulous lawyers manipulate the ambiguities in the current statute to take an unreasonably restrictive position regarding custody or visitation. The result is often confusion or feelings of abandonment in the child, disdain between the parents, and outlandish attorneys fees. The proposed language in this bill seeks to remove some of the ambiguities and to begin the conversation with both parents having an opportunity to be considered as appropriate custodial parents. The safeguards in cases of abuse and neglect have not been disturbed, but the updated language signals to the parties and counsel that when appropriate, cooperation and teamwork will be encouraged and required. Thank you.
I write to express the concerns of the juvenile and domestic relations court judges who have reviewed House Bill 2041. Although we do not have an official position yet, a committee of judges who reviewed this bill has recommended opposing this bill. The problems with this bill include: 1. This bill would elevate the division of “parenting time” above consideration of the best interests of the child. 2. The bill’s amendments to Code § 20-124.3 would place it in conflict with Code § 20-124.2(B), the statute immediately preceding it, which states “The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children.” Courts already take this in consideration in appropriate cases. This other section also addresses the phrase “parenting time” and its use in the bill conflicts. 3. Finally, this amendment creates a syntax error in the statute such that if neither party requests the court to assure frequent and continuing contact, the statute is rendered useless and there’s nothing for the court to do with regard to the listed factors.
To the members of the House of Delegates Courts of Justice - Civil Subcommittee, I request that you vote "no" on HB2041 until the Commonwealth of Virginia is able to pass laws that will ensure the child's safety is the first priority in family court adjudication. The child's right to grow up in a safe and healthy home should trump the parents' right to access the child. Current law does not provide protection from parents who psychologically, emotionally, or verbally abuse their children. I know for a fact how seriously detrimental this treatment of a child can be due to the trauma caused in my own childhood by my father and now in my journey to protect my own child from her abusive father. The amount of money and time required to be spent to correct and treat these childhood traumas through psychological treatment and medication could be avoided by first evaluating each parent's ability to raise a child in a healthy home. In September 2018, the House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 72, which provides excellent data as to why allowing equal access to children is dangerous. It also lays out ways in which states can work to make child safety the main priority in child custody decisions. You may find this document here: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hconres72/BILLS-115hconres72rds.pdf Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Sallie Amos
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, for considering HB 2041. As you may recall, you have passed previous iterations of this bill unanimously for the past two years. That is certainly aligned with the fact that 92% of Virginians want this legislation to pass. You have before you a rigorously coordinated bill, whose language was crafted in collaboration with domestic violence prevention experts, Family Law Attorneys, guardians ad litem, mental health experts, parents of all walks of life, and a host of legislators on both sides of the aisle. Specifically, you will note the phrase "upon the request of either party," which addresses previously raised concerns of the "absent or unwilling parent" (meaning that if a parent is absent or unwilling, they would not request time with their children). You will also note the clause referencing the exception for cases of "abuse, neglect or other pressing safety concern." In one of the previous years where you passed this bill unanimously, Delegate Levine raised a concern with domestic violence on the House floor. We have engaged with Delegate Levine and the language you see here has been coordinated with him; he supports this language. Additionally, we have included sexual assault response experts in the formulation of this language. This language not only addresses what 92% of Virginians want and consolidates the input from a diverse representation of family law attorneys, guardians ad litem, mental health, and other experts...it also reflects the fact that 93% of Virginians are more likely to vote for someone who supports this legislation. All that said, it’s important to note that this is NOT a presumption of joint custody. It still allows the court and judges flexibility to account for each unique situation. Finally: It is also important to note that there have been previous suggestions to move this language to be a new best interest factor. Unfortunately, doing so would really not do much at all to improve the current problem in Virginia. In fact, we spoke with the Family Law Coalition about a month ago (on a call with Delegate Davis, Delegate Levine, and others), during which the Coalition confirmed that making this a factor would not really do much at all (and that this is actually why they support it becoming a best interest factor). I also understand, in having spoken with many of you individually (and in years past, collectively) that you do not really like passing “do nothing bills” or “do nothing legislation.” Leaving this language where it currently is (in the preamble) has the kind of impact needed by Virginians and is supported by the empirical research on the topic. Moving it to be a factor would do nothing to improve things and would just continue the status quo that is not in the best interest of children. The language in front of you accounts for all of this. It is the kind of bill many of you have told me you wish citizens would bring before you: thoroughly researched, thoroughly vetted, thoroughly coordinated, and thoroughly supported by science and, ideally, by citizens. Well, you’ve got that. Right in front of you. Now all that’s left to do is vote for it. Thank you.
HB2055 - Child support obligations; party's incarceration not deemed voluntary unemployment/underemployment.
HB2099 - Judgments; limitations on enforcement, judgment liens, settlement agents, effective date.
We support this Bill. Homeownership makes a world of difference in being able to help not only move up the ladder economically but to help the next generation for transfer of wealth. Judgment liens on real estate can threaten homeownership so a more reasonable time limit on enforcement of those liens is good for homeowners.