Va. woman fails to relinquish custody

Associated Press / January 2, 2010

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A woman at the center of a complex dispute with her former lesbian partner defied a court order to give up custody of her 7-year-old daughter yesterday, opening the door to possible criminal charges.

A Vermont judge had ordered Lisa Miller to turn over her daughter, Isabella, to Janet Jenkins at 1 p.m. yesterday at the Falls Church, Va., home of Jenkins’s parents. Miller did not show up, according to Fairfax County, Va., police and Jenkins’s Vermont-based attorney.

“She’s very disappointed, obviously,’’ said Sarah Star, Jenkins’s lawyer. “She’s very concerned about Isabella and asks that if anybody sees Isabella, that they please contact the authorities.’’

Star said she contacted authorities in Rutland County, Vt., where Jenkins lives, and Bedford County, Va., where Miller was living the last time Jenkins knew her whereabouts.

Miller and Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality, and became an evangelical Christian.

When Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen dissolved the couple’s civil union, he awarded custody to Miller but granted liberal visitation rights to Jenkins.

Cohen awarded custody to Jenkins on Nov. 20 after finding Miller in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl. The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody.