Lesbian seeking custody rights fails to properly file legal document
RICHMOND, Va. The Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 8, rejected an appeal filed by a woman who lost a high-profile child custody and visitation battle with her former lesbian partner.
The court ruled that Lisa Miller failed to properly file notice of her appeal after the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Vermont courts have jurisdiction in the dispute.
However, Miller still has a second appeal pending before Virginia’s highest court.
“Today’s ruling has no effect none whatsoever on the merits of the litigation at the Virginia Supreme Court,” said Matthew Staver, one of Miller’s attorneys.
But Greg Nevins, an attorney for the gay-rights group Lambda Legal, called the ruling “a major milestone in the case.”
Miller and Janet Jenkins were Virginia residents in 2000 when they traveled to Vermont to join in a civil union.
Miller conceived a child through artificial insemination in 2001 while the couple was together and the child, Isabella, was born the following April.
They moved full-time to Vermont in August 2002.
In the fall of 2003, the women separated and Miller moved back to Virginia. She filed for a dissolution of their civil union, which is akin to a divorce, and sought custody of Isabella.
In June 2004, a Vermont family court granted Jenkins visitation rights; that October, a Frederick County, Va., court issued a contradicting decision.
In August, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that Vermont courts had exclusive jurisdiction in the custody battle. The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed in November. On April 30, the U.S. Supreme Court also refused to hear Miller’s appeal of the Vermont court ruling.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 27, 2007.