The rights of children to succeed to a deceased ancestor's property interests in Virginia are treated in some fifteen separate sections of the Virgina Code. When one considers that these fifteen sections were enacted over a period of 189 years, as the result of legislation introduced by various individuals who were at any given time focusing on a particular portion of this larger problem area without always taking into account the "spin-off' effect that their particular legislation might have on all of the other sections dealing with the succession rights of children, it is not surprising to find that there is a certain amount of gap, overlap, inconsistency and ambiguity that plagues today's practitioner who is trying to determine the rights of a specific child in a number of instances, and that consequences generally regarded as improper and unjust, from the child's standpoint, are too often required by the present state of the law. Moreover, a recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has made it quite clear that at least two of these fifteen sections are unconstitutional and this, of course, creates an even larger gap in Virginia law than existed before.

Accordingly, it is the intent of this article: (1) to state the present Virginia statutory law dealing with the succession rights of children; (2) to note the problems raised by these statutes in their present form; and (3) to offer draft language for legislation which would (i) remove the constitutionally offensive statutes and. replace them with alternative statutes more responsive to the solution of the problems therein presented, (ii) eliminate the present problems of gap and overlap by consolidating a number of like statutes into one, (iii) alleviate the present interpretative problems in those remaining statutes by having one statute serve as a definitional section tying together all other sections that deal with the succession rights of children, and (iv) make Virginia law more uniform with that of our sister states and more compatible with the Uniform Parentage Act.

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