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Virginia Court of Appeals upholds Vermont court order in lesbian mom custody dispute

Great news from Lambda Legal. This was about the case of a Vermont couple who broke up, and the biological mom claimed to have “found God,” declared herself a former lesbian and fled to the homo-unfriendly state of Virginia, refusing to let her  former partner see their daughter.

This court ruled in favor of the non-custodial mom, who had been granted shared custody in Vermont.

Today, the Virginia Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Commonwealth of Virginia has no say in a custody dispute that began in Vermont between Janet Jenkins and her former partner Lisa Miller. 

“This has been a long road for Janet and now she’s that much closer to seeing her daughter again,” said Greg Nevins, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. “The Virginia Court of Appeals rightly recognized that federal law protects parents against the very thing Lisa Miller did — parents cannot shop around looking for a court to give them sole custody.”

Janet Jenkins (formerly Janet Miller-Jenkins) filed an appeal with the Virginia Court of Appeals seeking to enforce a Vermont court order saying she must have regular visitation with the now four-year-old daughter she and her former partner, Lisa Miller (formerly Miller-Jenkins), had when the two women were joined in a Vermont civil union. After the women ended their relationship, Miller moved to Virginia with the women’s daughter, and she asked a Vermont court to dissolve the couple’s civil union and sort out custody of the child. When the Vermont court ordered visitation for Jenkins, Miller filed a new lawsuit in Virginia court, successfully using that state’s antigay marriage law to have herself declared the child’s sole legal parent. The conflicting court orders — one from Vermont ordering regular visitation for Jenkins, and the other from a lower court in Virginia naming Miller the sole parent — led to today’s decision from Virginia’s intermediate court. Earlier this month the Vermont court found Miller in contempt for violation of its order for shared custody.

Hat tip, Sarah in Chicago

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding