Spare the Child Video Project Hailed by the ABA's Bar Leader to Educate Families in Dissolution

Family dissolution is all too common, and its effects on children can be devastating. In the Commonwealth
of Virginia alone, there are more than 30,000 divorces yearly, and that does not include nonmarried families in
transition. To fill the need in educational materials for the public, the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar created the video Spare the Child. It is an accessible, practical guide to the legal system aimed at the best possible results for children, and it introduces nonlitigious resolutions and positive parental roles and decisions that protect children.

The documentary-style video features judges, lawyers, guardians ad litem, counselors, teachers, and children
of divorce who relate their experiences. The video was first produced in 1997 in VHS format and has been used by churches and civic groups, family and juvenile courts, law firms, private homes, and law schools. A video redesign was initiated in 2007 and completed in 2010. During this time, the program underwent thorough review through surveys of family law professionals and the public before being rewritten and updated. Among these updates were greater diversity and representation of an increased variety of family structures, including unmarried unions and extended-family involvement in child rearing.

The video informs viewers of best practices and decisions while addressing the challenges that emotional actions have on children during and after family dissolution. It instructs viewers to focus on the needs of children and ends with a positive message to parents. Accounts from adult children of family dissolution - including two bar staff members-reveal firsthand expenences and reach viewers on an emotional level. Advice from family law professionals gives parents tangible tools to use in conunon situations, from preservation of schedules to custody disputes to interaction with extended families and family friends.

The project was funded by the Virginia Law Foundation and produced with Park Group of Richmond, Va.
The video is available in Spanish and closed captioning, both on DVD and on the Web. Former first lady of
Virginia and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Anne B. Holton was involved in the making of the video
and helped to raise awareness of the program. It has been screened at continuing legal education programs
and family law seminars, with copies of the DVD distributed to participants.

DVDs were distributed to courts throughout Virginia for use in mandatory litigant-education and parent education programs required by Section 16.1-278.15 of the Code of Virginia, which requires parents and/ or all other parties involved in a contested custody, visitation, or child support petition to attend a parenting education class. DVDs are available to the public for a shipping fee, and the video is available online at www.vsb.org/site/publications/video.

The Virginia State Bar and its Family Law Section encourage other bars, practices, and groups to use it. DVDs may be ordered by contacting Shannon Quarles at quarles@vsb.org or (804) 775-0512.

-By Madonna Dersch, graphic designer and assistant webmaster at the Viginia State Bar.

No comments:

Post a Comment