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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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New Virginia Laws Take Effect July 1 – Part 1


In Virginia, new laws take effect generally on July 1.  Below are some of the changes that may be relevant to you or someone you know who has a legal issue.

Custody/Visitation, Child Support and Spousal Support

House Bill 1351 requires that the court shall consider and may award joint legal, joint physical, or sole custody of a child. This bill also requires that there be no bias in favor of any such form of custody.

When determining child support, House Bill 1361 establishes the methods by which child support obligations can be calculated when there are multiple custody arrangements. There are three support scenarios that this bill outlines, “multiple shared custody support,” “sole and shared custody support” and “split and shared custody support.”

When considering a modification spousal support, the payor spouses’ reaching full retirement age shall be considered a material change in circumstance. House Bill 540 provides a list of factors that will be considered by the court when considering the modification based on the payor spouses’ reaching full retirement age.  A request for modification is available of any person who is subject to spousal support. This bill also requires that the court must consider the assets or property interest of each of the parties.

Senate Bill 615 clarifies that spousal support orders may be enforced by a court order requiring the payor’s employer to deduct the support amount due from the amounts due or payable to such payor. This is a change from the current law, which is unclear that such withholding is available for enforcement of spousal support payments.


After the entry of a decree of divorce a vinculo matrimonii, House Bill 289 provides that the circuit court shall not transfer a case for modification to the juvenile and domestic relations court in the absence of another party. It also requires a provision for transfer of matters for a modification to the juvenile and domestic relations court and a condition of entry.

Protective Orders

House Bill 262 provides that a petitioner with a protective order issued in a case that alleges family abuse, any other family or household member may be granted exclusive use and possession of an electronic device. However, a respondent may be enjoined from terminating a telephone number before the expiration date with the third-party provider. The court may enjoin the respondent from using an electronic device to lactate the petitioner.


House Bill 418 directs a circuit court to accept a petition for adoption filed by a child’s foster parent. It can order a thorough investigation if the child placing agency consents to the adoption after the child has resided in the home of the foster parent for at least six months, if the birth parent’s rights to the child have been terminated. The bill further provides that where the child has been in the home of the foster parents for at least 18 months, the consent of the agency (e.g. Department of Social Services) holding custody of the child is no longer needed in order for the court to accept the petition.

A child placing agency can approve an adoptive applicant that has been convicted of any offense. However, House Bill 437 states that in order for that approval to go through, the applicant must have their civil rights restored, that eight years have passed since the conviction, the person has completed all post-conviction obligations, has completed a substance abuse program, completed a drug test within 90 days of being approved, and complies with all other obligations determined by the Department of Social Services.

House Bill 986 requires that local boards of social services, prior to the adoption of a child, must disclose any information about the child regarding if they were involved in any sort of investigation about sexual abuse. There must also be a written agreement between the LDSS and the placement provider which must include all information regarding the investigation.

Criminal Law

In regard to admission to bail, House Bill 1260 Chapter 7, makes any person who is accused of receiving money for acquiring a prostitute or engaging in human trafficking subject to the rebuttable presumption against admission to bail.

When it comes to evidence in criminal proceedings, electronics will now be accepted. In a criminal proceeding any statutory requirement for an original document or piece of evidence, shall be satisfied if the item is in electronic form. That electronic form must be approved for filing under the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. Additionally, House Bill 235 states that any statutory authorization for the use of hard copies will be satisfied by use of such copies in hard copy or electronic form that is approved.

If the mental capacity of someone who is about to go through trial is in question, House Bill 52 requires that the evaluation to determine whether or not the person is competent to stand trial or their sanity must be conducted on an outpatient basis. This evaluation can take place in a mental health facility or in jail unless an outpatient evaluation has been conducted and a hospital evaluation is required. However, a court may order that a person be hospitalized if the court finds the services necessary to conduct the evaluation are not available. The court can also order hospitalization if the results of the evaluation indicated that it is necessary for another evaluation.

House Bill 1193 also has the ability to influence mental health cases. This bill states that a person who is convicted of a crime and then acquitted by reason of insanity in regard to another offense in the same proceeding must complete any sentence imposed for any other offense prior to being placed in mental health treatment.

House Bill 1550 raises the threshold for larceny to be a felony from $200 to $500. A subsequent conviction of petit larceny would remain a Class 6 felony under the new provisions of the legislation.

Senate Bill 36 allows courts to impose nonconsecutive or weekend jail time for defendants convicted of a misdemeanor, traffic offense, of felony that is not an act of violence. However, the active portion of the sentence remaining to be served if 45 days or less.

Access to Firearms

Senate Bill 669 addresses involuntary mental health patients and their access to firearms. This bill states that a minor who was ordered to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment is subject to the same restrictions on possessing, purchasing, or transporting firearms as an adult. This bill also goes on to say that they may utilize the same procedure as an adult when petitioning for the reinstatement of a person’s firearms rights.

Controlled Substances

The use of cannabidiol oil (CBD) and THC-A oil for the treatment of any diagnosed condition or disease may be issued by a practitioner. Under the current law, a practitioner may only prescribe those oils to alleviate epilepsy. However, House Bill 1251 provides that these substances can now be for any diagnosed condition that the practitioner sees will gain benefits from such treatment. This bill also increases the supply of the oils from a 30-day supply to a 90- day supply.

Mental Health

Senate Bill 673 repeals the provisions authorizing a community services board to continue to attempt to identify a facility other than a state hospital that is able and willing to provide temporary detention and care to an individual subject to an emergency custody order.

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