Del. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, and Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, agreed that children can be kept in limbo far too long by proceedings to terminate parental rights.
But they had different approaches to reducing the delay. Griffith’s House Bill 292 would have put jurisdiction over terminations in circuit court, rather than in juvenile and domestic relations district court, where the process begins now. Toscano’s HB748 would have made the J&DR court a court of record for terminations with an appeal directly to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
The civil subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice had trouble accepting the fundamental change required by each approach: elimination of the J&DR courts’ expertise in working with dysfunctional families under Morgan’s proposal and bypassing de novo review available in circuit court for all J&DR rulings that that Toscano’s approach would entail.
As a result, the subcommittee voted to carry the two bills over to the 2011 session of the legislature.
By Alan Cooper