A Vermont judge on Friday granted sole custody of a Virginia woman’s 7-year-old daughter to be transferred to the woman’s former lesbian lover by the end of this year.
Lisa Miller had given birth to her daughter Isabella through artificial insemination while still living in a civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont, but left Jenkins and the lesbian lifestyle about a year later. Jenkins, who has no biological or legal relationship with Isabella, later pursued custody of Miller’s daughter through the courts.
Miller is expected to give up Isabella by January 1, 2010.
Miller’s attorney, Mathew Staver, told the Rutland Herald Friday that Miller would appeal Cohen’s decision to the Vermont Supreme Court, while contesting in the Virginia Court of Appeals against the enforcement of Vermont orders conflicting with Virginia law. The Virginia court will hear oral arguments December 9 in Alexandria.
“We’re certainly not happy with the order. I think Lisa is devastated that the court would grant custody to Jenkins – a person who Isabella doesn’t know,” said Staver. “The only person known to her is her mother.”
“We will ask the court to stay enforcement while the appeal moves forward. It’s premature to set dates while the appeal is pending.”
Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright condemned the ruling, saying the Vermont judge “showed little understanding of the case or sensitivity to children” by claiming “the change in parental custody, which includes moving to a new home, school, and state to live with a virtual stranger, would cause some disruption for Isabella but would not be out of the norm for a child.”
“This decision could influence custody battles beyond Vermont,” said Wright. “It treats a partner in a civil union no differently than a biological or legal parent in a custody battle.”
To respectfully contact Judge Cohen:
Judge William D. Cohen
RUTLAND SUPERIOR COURT
83 Center Street, Suite 3
Rutland, VT 05701
Lisa Miller’s Facebook page