Guardians ad litem appointed in custody and visitation cases; certification form. (HB1241)

Introduced By

Del. Riley Ingram (R-Hopewell)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Standards for guardians ad litem appointed in custody and visitation cases; certification form; substitute judges in custody and visitation proceedings. The bill requires a guardian ad litem appointed in a custody or visitation case to submit to the court a form certifying that he has complied with all applicable standards. The bill directs the Judicial Council of Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association, to promulgate such a form by July 1, 2017. The bill prohibits a substitute judge from presiding over any custody, visitation, or support proceeding held in a juvenile and domestic relations district court. Read the Bill »


02/03/2016: Failed to Pass in Committee


01/19/2016Presented and ordered printed 16104020D
01/19/2016Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/21/2016Assigned to sub: Civil Law
01/21/2016Assigned App. sub: Civil Law
01/21/2016Assigned Courts sub: Civil Law
02/01/2016Subcommittee recommends continuing to 2017
02/03/2016Continued to 2017 in Courts of Justice


Stella Edwards writes:

Thank you for not allowing this bill to die a slow death during this GA session. Children are counting on legislators to save them from the current system, their indifferent parents, social workers, public defenders, therapist, and other professionals “hired” to help make them whole in this life. I look forward to the success of this bill in the 2017 general assembly session.

Roy Mastro writes:

This bill will save many children from being destroyed in our broken legal system. Children from divorced parents have no voice for consideration in their future. In many cases the courts appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the children. Many have proven to be negligent in fulfilling their duties in the best interest of the children, therefore the children are placed in unstable homes where they are permanently damaged. Many of these children lose hope for any kind of a successful future. Some will turn to drugs/crime for attention,some will end up in foster care, others are capable of during the unthinkable or committing suicide.We need to change this culture for the assigned Guardian Ad Litem for children to include the revised checklist for certification that was submitted to the Civil Courts Sub-committee at the 2016 General Assembly.This change will force accountability for the appointed Guardian Ad Litem and maybe they will show more concern for the children and leave their office to fulfill their duties in the best interest of the children.

Substitute judges should be ban from child custody cases or recorders should be required in all of child custody cases in the JDRC. Substitute judges have proven to have very little knowledge of the case and many of these cases are continued creating additional legal fees for the young parents trying to protect college funds for their children. This process creates more need for additional judges because the parents feel that the case was not properly handled. Also, it means more time away from work for the parents which has proven in some cases to create lost employment from being in court so much. Supporting this bill (HB-1241) will restore some competency in our legal system.

CAM writes:

A Guardian Ad Litem should be focused on the best interest of the child (as the attorneys representing each parent are primarily focused on their adult client's best interest). The GAL should ensure the child is not being abused by either parent/caregiver, is attending school, and is in a safe and nurturing environment.

Kathy Pendergraph writes:

I am extremely grateful for this bill. It contains many of the same provisions I listed in a communication to my grandson's neuro development doctor (among others). If in place prior to the current time, it might have saved our family severe heartbreak and hardship. Most importantly, it could have spared the child four years of acute emotional, physical and very likely sexual abuse resulting from court ordered unsupervised visits to his abuser.

This same abuser suddenly decided it was in the best interest of her child for her to disappear from his life when he was six years of age. Her announcement of her decision came the same day we (including her) awaited the results of CT imaging to determine if the bone tumor on his leg was benign or malignant. She had not visited him for five months prior. In the same email announcement she requested that I join her in petitioning the Commonwealth to release her from child support obligations. Up until nine months prior she had paid either $0 or $154 per month. Upon review (a few months prior to her decision) the amount was changed to nearly $600 per month.

As bad as the GAL was, the judge was just as bad. Both made completely false statements during hearings and were pathetically biased in favor of the rights of the child's mother in spite of the horribly detrimental outcomes for the child. Both (and an additional GAL) blocked any information revealing the facts about the instability and dishonesty of the mother from coming into the court. I was amazed that two grown women would openly display such bias, dishonest and vindictive behaviors. Our grandson had four GAL's. Two of them were very good and thorough. Their names were Tristana Treadway (Louisa) and Frank Uvanni (Hanover). Unfortunately for all concerned, Lisa Davis-Lee and Aileen Lang/Tucker were a disgrace to their professions. I filed a formal complaint against Davis-Lee concerning one of her many failures and was sent a letter stating she did nothing wrong.

Thankfully, upon our second appeal to Circuit Court, Judge Overton Harris signed off on a Consent Order favorable to our positions. However, because I know of other families who have suffered seriously due to the decisions made by Judge Hoehl, she needs serious review. Having seen the characters of a few of those who are supposed to be looking out for the children, recording of hearings should be available because the things that have been done when no one else is present are sickening.

Thank you,

Kathy Pendergraph