VA’s 2016 General Assembly Gives Boost to Mediation

During the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session legislators considered and passed legislation important to mediators across Virginia.

The Code of Virginia currently states that court-appointed mediators in family cases receive a flat fee of $100 for a mediation. This amount did not reflect the amount of work that goes into these mediations and the time required for the administrative matters surrounding the mediation. This amount has also remained the same for the last 15 years.

Bills were introduced to increase the fee from $100 to $120 and to treat custody appointments as separate appointments from support appointments for purposes of payment.

Virginia’s legislators recognized the value of mediation and voted overwhelmingly to increase funding for mediators to $120 (at least for the next two years) and to pay cases that involve support separate from cases involving custody/visitation.

This effort was the culmination of two years of hard work by the Mediator Compensation Task Force (MCTF), which is made up of members from the Virginia Mediation Network and the Virginia Association of Community Conflict Resolution (VACCR) along with representatives from Dispute Resolution Services of the Office of the Executive Secretary.  The Virginia Bar Association lent the use of its lobbyist to help make the legislative request successful.

 

The support for this initiative from mediators and mediation supporters across the state also played an important role in the success of the initiative.

Giving Children in VA the Two-Parent Advantage

Free mediation sessions and co-parenting classes are being offered to parents who have open cases with the Department of Child Support Enforcement.  The goal of this program is to give children the benefit of having both parents involved in their lives.

Mediation services will give parents the opportunity to sit with an impartial neutral to develop plans for spending time with the child(ren).   Even tricky topics such as how time with the child(ren) will be divided over the holidays can be tackled.

Co-parenting classes will give parents information and tools to effectively communicate with each other and share parenting responsibilities.  Funding for this program is made available through the Department of Social Services’ Access and Visitation grant program.

 

To get access to the mediation program, both parents need to be willing to mediate a parenting plan.   Also, current contact information for both parents needs to be available.   Parents who meet these criteria should call VACCR’s main telephone number 888-VA PEACE to connect to the closest center offering the services.  Or centers can be reached directly at the numbers below:

 

ReSOLUTIONS, Woodstock                                                                          (540) 459-8799

Better Agreements, Inc. Blacksburg                                                        (540) 552-1200

CMG Foundation, Richmond                                                                       (804) 254-2664

Conflict Resolution Center @ Children’s Trust, Roanoke                 (540) 342-2063 ext. 24

FairField Center, Harrisonburg                                                                   (540) 434-0059 ext. 1

Mediation Center of Charlottesville                                                         (434) 977-2926

NVMS (Northern Virginia Mediation Service)                                      (703) 865-7263

Piedmont Dispute Resolution Center, Warrenton                                                     (540) 347-6650

Peaceful Alternatives Community Mediation, Amherst                 (434) 929-8224

The Up Center, Portsmouth                                                              (757) 397-2121 ext. 332

Landlord Tenant Mediation

 

The Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution’s 30-second video on landlord tenant mediation encourages the use of mediation to settle landlord tenant disputes.  In mediation landlords and tenants can take the time to understand each other’s situation and perspective.  Unlike in court, they can craft  workable payment plans if money is owed.  It is amazing how mediation can positively alter the relationship between a landlord and tenant. To get more information on using mediation, contact one of the centers listed on this site, go to vaccr.org or call 1-888-VAPEACE

Neighborhood Mediation

This 30 second video describes how mediation can be used to help settle neighborhood disputes. Mediators can help parties discuss what is important to them and help them to create solutions that will work. Does a relationship with a neighbor really get better after taking them to court? For information about neighborhood or other types of mediation, contact one of the centers listed, go to VACCR.org or call 1-888-VAPEACE.

Access to Justice Quicker with Mediation

The Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution (VACCR) recently collected information on the length of time it takes for cases to be heard and resolved by a judge compared with the length of time it takes for cases to be resolved using mediation. The data suggests that when mediation is used, Virginians obtain access to justice (a settlement of their issues) much quicker, sometimes three times faster.

The table below lists the time it takes for cases to be heard by a judge and for cases to be resolved through mediation in general district courts (GDC) and juvenile and domestic relations courts (J&DR) in the nine regions across Virginia served by VACCR member centers, most of whom hold contracts from the Supreme Court of Virginia to coordinate the provision of mediation services.

Click on this link to see the table: Case Settlement Condensed Table

While many courts in Virginia can connect petitioners with mediators who are paid by the Court to provide mediation free of charge, people in conflict who do not want to wait for a court referral can contact a mediation center or mediator directly and pay for their services. Center fees are responsive to client incomes so they should be affordable to all.

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VA’s 2016 General Assembly Gives Boost to Mediation

During the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session legislators considered and passed legislation important to mediators across Virginia. The Code of Virginia currently states that court-appointed mediators in family cases receive a flat fee of $100 for a mediation. This amount did not reflect the amount of work that goes into these mediations and the time required for …

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