Saturday, August 25, 2012
The following is the current addition to the existing VA Code section 63.2-1203, under number 4(C). C. In an adoption proceeding where the consent of a birth parent is required, but the petition for adoption alleges that the birth parent is withholding consent to the adoption, the court shall provide written notice to the birth parent of his right to be represented by counsel prior to any hearing or decision on the petition. Upon request, the court shall appoint counsel for any such birth parent if such parent has been determined to be indigent by the court pursuant to § 19.2-159.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Virginia Child Support Review Panel has scheduled a meeting for September 20 in Richmond. The panel plans to make its recommendations in time for the 2013 legislature session, which starts in January 2013. Signs are that the panel may recommend a big jump -- enough to cause "sticker shock." according to the panel's economic consultant -- in the numbers in Virginia's child support guideline. The guideline relates CS to the incomes of the parents and the number of children. In the view of Fathers For Virginia (FFV), the next meeting of the CS Guideline Review Panel is likely to be a critical one. FFV has organized a meeting in the afternoon of Saturday, September 8, in Springfield, VA, to discuss the outlook for the CS review panel, and what noncustodial parents can do to ensure that they are not stuck with a major increase in their payments. We hope you will be able to come to the meeting, and make a contribution to the discussion. We also hope you will be able to testify to the September 20 meeting. Please consider coming to the September 8 meeting even if you personally no longer pay child support. This is part of our effort to get people in Richmond to focus more on fathers' issues, and that is a very long-term process. We have arranged the meeting in a library close to the Springfield Interchange (I-95 and the Washington Beltway), in hopes that those coming from outside Northern Virginia will find it easier to attend. Details of the times and the location are below. Some FFV representatives have already testified to the Child Support Guideline Review Panel, whose website is http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/dcse/panel.cgi . Among the points we have made are the following: --- The current guideline is already indexed for inflation, because CS amounts are linked to the incomes of the custodial and noncustodial parents. In consequence, it is a mistake to suggest that amounts in the guideline must be raised because the cost of raising children has increased. --- The whole issue of child support, and its enforcement, is distorted by the disparity in the gender distribution of custody, with fathers being custodial parents in only about 6 percent of non-intact families in Virginia. This disparity should be openly acknowledged as a problem, and the CS review panel should not go further down the road of discriminating against fathers. --- The current CS guideline should be modified, but the modification should consist of removal of the present 90-day threshold below which visitation time has no impact on the amount noncustodial parents have to pay. We have seen some signs of a new attitude in Richmond towards divorced and non-marital families, including concern about unintended incentives for the creation of these families. We can explain some of these signs at the meeting. This is a golden opportunity for non-custodial parents to make their voices heard. We hope you can come to the meeting on September 8. We need more people who can speak out on these matters. Please reply to this e-mail to let us know if you plan to attend the September 8 meeting. We need to have an estimate of attendance, in order to complete the arrangements. Any questions should be directed to Kenneth Skilling, firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of the Meeting The meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 1 p.m. in Meeting Room 1 of the Richard Byrd Library (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/rb/.) The address of the library is: 7250 Commerce Street, Springfield, VA 22150-3499, telephone: 703-451-8055 For those coming from a distance, there are several hotels in various price ranges within easy reach of this library. In addition, it may be possible to arrange overnight accommodation in the homes of FFV members who live in Northern Virginia.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
FFV Activities on Current Policy Issues Fathers For Virginia (FFV) has started preparations for the next session of the Virginia legislature, which begins in January 2013, A major focus of FFV's attention is the re-examination of Virginia's child support guideline. An advisory panel appointed by the governor has been meeting to look at the current guideline, which links CS payments to the incomes of the parents and to the number of children. The advisory panel expects to make recommendations in time for consideration by the 2013 legislative session. The next meeting of the child support review panel is in Richmond on September 20. It is important that as many fathers as possible are present at this review panel meeting. FFV plans to hold a meeting during August to discuss how to handle this issue. The date and place for this FFV meeting will be announced soon. Several FFV members testified to the last meeting of the child support review panel. The points made in FFV testimony were as follows: (1) From comments made by Dr. Jane Venohr, who was hired to help with the review of the CS numbers, it appears that she will recommend substantial increases in the figures in the guideline. The basis for raising CS amounts, she says, are that the cost of raising children has increased, and that adjoining states are raising their CS guideline numbers. FFV, however, has testified that the guideline amounts already are indexed for inflation, because the numbers are tied to parental incomes. To raise the amounts without regard to the incomes of noncustodial parents (almost exclusively fathers) would involve imposing new and unjustified burdens on fathers. (2) The CS guideline SHOULD be revised, but the change should be to remove the present 90-day threshold below which the time the children spend with the noncustodial parent has no effect on the amount of CS he has to pay to the custodial parent. There is no justification for this 90-day "cliff effect," which has had the practical repercussion of ensuring that custodial parents will never agree to more than 90 days visitation per year. Instead, CS amounts should be calculated on a sliding scale. (3) Underlying the CS guideline is the longstanding and pervasive discrimination against fathers in custody awards. According to figures from the Division of Child Support Enforcement, at the end of 2011 fathers were custodial parents in only about 6 percent of cases in Virginia. FFV is also involved in other issues in Richmond that affect fathers. We plan to seek reintroduction in 2013 of a bill that would provide for presumptive joint custody. In addition, FFV is seeking to participate in a policy re-examination started by Social Services Commissioner Martin Brown, the Strengthening Virginia's Families initiative. This initiative is based on an explicit recognition of the costs to Virginia taxpayers -- running into billions of dollars annually -- of family breakdown in the state. We think that the initiative should involve ways of eliminating government programs that have the unintended consequence of providing incentives for the creation of fatherless families. In addition, FFV is encouraging the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement to drop the "Ten Most Wanted" list of those who have fallen behind on CS payments. We maintain that this list is disrespectful to fathers, most of whom are unable -- not unwilling -- to pay the huge amounts of money that they owe. There are some signs that DCSE may be willing to drop this list. Kenneth Skilling Fathers For Virginia