Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 16.1. Courts Not of Record
Chapter 11. Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
7/23/2024

§ 16.1-266.1. Standards for attorneys appointed as guardians ad litem; list of qualified attorneys; attorneys appointed for parents or guardians.

A. On or before January 1, 1995, the Judicial Council of Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association, shall adopt standards for attorneys appointed as guardians ad litem pursuant to § 16.1-266. The standards shall, insofar as practicable, take into consideration the following criteria: (i) license or permission to practice law in Virginia, (ii) current training in the roles, responsibilities and duties of guardian ad litem representation, (iii) familiarity with the court system and general background in juvenile law, and (iv) demonstrated proficiency in this area of the law.

B. The Judicial Council shall maintain a list of attorneys admitted to practice law in Virginia who are qualified to serve as guardians ad litem based upon the standards and shall make the names available to the courts. If no attorney who is on the list is reasonably available, a judge in his discretion may appoint any discreet and competent attorney who is admitted to practice law in Virginia.

C. On or before January 1, 2026, the Judicial Council, in conjunction with the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association, shall adopt standards for the qualification and performance of attorneys appointed pursuant to § 16.1-266 to represent a parent or guardian of a child when such child is the subject of a child dependency case. The standards shall, to the extent practicable, take into consideration the following criteria: (i) license or permission to practice law in Virginia; (ii) current training in the roles, responsibilities, and duties of parent or guardian representation; (iii) familiarity with the court system and a general background in juvenile law; and (iv) demonstrated proficiency in this area of law. For purposes of this section, a "child dependency case" includes cases before the juvenile and domestic relations district courts, and the circuit courts on appeal, involving a child who is (a) alleged to have been abused or neglected pursuant to § 16.1-278.2; (b) alleged to be at risk of being abused or neglected by a parent or custodian who has been adjudicated as having abused or neglected another child in his care pursuant to § 16.1-278.2; (c) the subject of a petition for approval of an entrustment agreement pursuant to § 16.1-277.01; (d) the subject of a petition for relief of custody pursuant to § 16.1-277.02; (e) placed in foster care and is the subject of a foster care or permanency plan filed pursuant to § 16.1-281, 16.1-282, 16.1-282.1, or 16.1-282.2; and (f) the subject of a petition for termination of residual parental rights pursuant to § 16.1-283.

D. Beginning July 1, 2026, the Judicial Council shall maintain a list of attorneys admitted to practice law in Virginia who are qualified to be appointed to represent indigent parents and guardians involved in a child dependency case based on the standards required by this section and shall make such names available to the courts.

E. Counsel appointed for a parent or guardian pursuant to subsection D of § 16.1-266 prior to July 1, 2026, shall be selected from the list of attorneys who are qualified to serve as guardians ad litem. On or after July 1, 2026, such counsel shall be selected from the list of attorneys who are qualified to be appointed to represent indigent parents and guardians established in accordance with subsection D. If no attorney who is on the list is reasonably available or appropriate considering the circumstances of the parent or case, a judge in his discretion may appoint any discreet and competent attorney who is admitted to practice law in Virginia.

1994, c. 36; 1995, c. 273; 2016, cc. 182, 509; 2024, c. 428.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.