Virginia's Judicial System

March 2000: Volume 8, Issue 1: ADR Related Legislation

The 2000 General Assembly is considering a number of bills related to the field of dispute resolution. A few key bills are summarized below. Individuals may track the status of any bill by logging on to the legislative information system at

House Bill No. 1394 - This bill removes the ability of parties to opt out of a dispute resolution evaluation session under Section 8.01-576.5. It also removes language that currently allows further participation in a dispute resolution proceeding to be by the consent of all parties. In essence, this bill would enable a judge to require parties to attend a dispute resolution evaluation session as well as mediation.

Senate Bill No. 127 - This bill states that, in any appropriate case the court shall refer the parents or persons with a legitimate interest to a dispute resolution evaluation session to be conducted at no cost and in accordance with the procedures set out in Chapter 20.2 in Title 8.01 (Section 8.01-576.4 et. seq.). If an agreement is not reached on any issue through further mediation as agreed to by the parties, prior to the return date set by the court pursuant to Section 8.01-576.5, the court shall proceed with a hearing on any unresolved issue, unless a continuance has been granted by the court. The fee of a mediator appointed in any custody, support or visitation case shall be $100 per court appointment and shall be paid by the Commonwealth from the funds appropriated for payment of appointments made pursuant to subsection B of 16.1-267.

House Bill No. 926 - This bill creates a new visitation expeditor program. The visitation expeditor may be appointed by the court to resolve visitation disputes by enforcing, interpreting, clarifying, and addressing circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing visitation order, and, if appropriate, to make a determination as to whether the existing visitation order has been violated. The expeditor may use a mediation-arbitration process to resolve visitation disputes. The bill describes the method of appointment, fees, confidentiality, training and certification immunity, a list of expeditors, and removal. This bill would create an entirely new dispute resolution process and category of neutrals with special authority to resolve visitation disputes.

House Bill No. 1501 - This bill amends Section 20-124.2 to add that the Supreme Court shall develop and disseminate to the appropriate courts a default standard visitation plan.

House Bill No. 1178 - This bill amends Section 16.1-278.15 to state that when the parties are parents of a child whose custody or visitation is contested, the court shall order the parties, at the time of the initial court appearance, to attend educational seminars on the effects of separation or divorce on children, parenting responsibilities, and options for conflict resolution. No fee in excess of fifty dollars may be charged. The court may grant an exemption from attendance of such program for good cause shown. This bill would in essence make participation in a parent education program in contested cases mandatory, unless an exemption is granted by the court.

House Bill 391 - This bill would add in Title 23 a new chapter numbered 16.4, consisting of sections numbered 23-231.19 through 23-231.23, relating to the Virginia Center for School Safety. The Center would serve as a resource and referral center for Virginia School divisions by conducting research, sponsoring workshops, and providing information regarding current school safety concerns, such as conflict management and peer mediation.

Budget Amendment Senate (Item 23#3s) and House (Item 210#9h) - This amendment provides $500,000 each year from the general fund for mediation services. It is the intent of this amendment that the Institute administer these funds for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia. The Institute will retain $50,000 each year or ten percent of the total amount to coordinate date collection and evaluation, and to provide training, consultation, and technical assistance. From the remaining funds, $50,000 each year will be provided to each of the eight community mediation centers.

Budget Amendment Senate (Item 23#1s) - This amendment provides $500,000 each year from the general fund to expand the availability of mediation services through contracts with mediators and mediation organizations around the state.


April 6-8
ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference; San Francisco, CA Contact Linda Baron; 202-662-1687

April 30 to May 1
VMN Spring Training Conference; Hyatt Richmond; Contact: Morna Ellis; 804-285-2780; 888-506-4VMN; website:

May 11
Central Virginia Mediation Network Meeting; 5:00 PM; Jewish Community Center; Jescye French - Update on Mediation Legislation

May 25
6th Annual Administrative Law Conference; Crowne Plaza Hotel, Richmond Contact: Brenda Dillard, VBA 804-644-0041; Co-sponsored by VBA’s Admin. Law Section & Admin. Law Advisory Committee Keynote Speaker: Christopher Moore 3 Breakout Group Topics: (1) Alternative Structures for Public Hearings, (2) ADR in Adjudication & Permitting, and (3) Consensus Building in State and Local Government Policy Making

March as Mediation Month

March has traditionally been observed in Virginia as a month to recognize mediation. Please take advantage of this special recognition to creatively spread the word in your community about the way the practice of mediation as a method of dispute resolution continues to contribute to the peace, prosperity and welfare of our great Commonwealth.

Resolutions is published quarterly by the Department of Dispute Resolution Services Office of the Executive Secretary Supreme Court of Virginia.

To request copies of the newsletter or to be placed on the mailing list, you may contact: Department of Dispute Resolution Services 100 North Ninth Street, Third Floor Richmond, Virginia 23219

Telephone: (804) 786-6455

Editors: Geetha Ravindra
Melanie Rinehults

Contributions of articles or information are always welcome.



This page last modified: March 23, 2000