The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 was the first major revision of federal bankruptcy law in over forty years. An important goal of the Act is to provide the debtor with a "meaningful fresh start." To that end, the Bankruptcy Act provides liberalized allowances in amounts and types of property that a debtor may hold exempt from creditors in an insolvency proceeding. Under section 522 subsection (b) of the Act, however, a state is permitted to "opt out" of the federal exemption scheme and prescribe under its own law the exemptions a debtor may claim. Virginia is among those states which have chosen to "opt out" of the federal scheme.
Henry N. Ware Jr.,
In re Cheeseman: A Judicial Revision of Virginia's Homestead Exemption Laws,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol16/iss2/6