Mother Loses Custody To Ex-Partner
Special Report - December 1, 2009
A Vermont judge has awarded sole custody of a seven-year-old Virginia girl to the non-biological ex-lesbian partner of her mother. The ruling by Family Court Judge William Cohen on November 20th is the most recent in a five-year saga being played out in both Vermont and Virginia courts.
Lisa Miller entered into a civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont in 2000 while maintaining Virginia residency. In 2002, after undergoing artificial insemination, Miller gave birth to a daughter, Isabella, and the couple moved to Vermont. Jenkins had no biological or legal relationship with Isabella. When Isabella was 17-months old, Miller left Jenkins and the homosexual lifestyle and moved back to Virginia. During court proceedings in 2004 to dissolve the couple’s civil union, the court granted custody of Isabella to Miller with visitation rights to Jenkins. Virginia courts have consistently deferred to granting full faith and credit in the case to the Vermont courts, which have recognized Jenkins as a parent of Isabella, despite the lack of a biological or legal relationship to support such a finding.
Most recently, Judge Cohen found Miller to be in contempt of court for denying Jenkins’ visitation access to Isabella. Because of this, Cohen’s decision concluded “that it is in the best interest of (Isabella) that Ms. Jenkins exercise parental rights and responsibilities." He went on to state “that continued interference by Ms. Miller with the relationship between (Isabella) and Ms. Jenkins could lead to a change of circumstances and outweigh the disruption that would occur if a change of custody were ordered." The effect of the decision was to transfer custody from Miller to Jenkins. Miller has until January 1, 2010 to send Isabella to live with Jenkins.
According to Miller’s attorney, Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel, she intends to appeal the decision to the Vermont Supreme Court and to contest enforcement of the order to the Virginia Court of Appeals due to a conflict with Virginia law, which does not recognize same-sex partners as having parental rights to children with whom they do not have a biological or legal relationship. Oral arguments in that case are scheduled in Alexandria, VA on December 9th.
Read about a similar case in North Carolina in this story from November.
“The Vermont court’s decision to create parental rights out of thin air for a near-perfect stranger to this little girl is yet another example of the consequences of the redefinition of the family and the marital relationship in our society,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “North Carolina needs to preserve the definition of marriage and family in her Constitution by allowing the citizens to vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment before such illogical decisions more make their way into our case law.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.