02 Dec Court Awards Custody to Non-Biological Mother in Same-Sex Custody Battle
A Vermont judge has ruled to give full custody of a seven year-old girl to her non-biological, lesbian mother in the state’s first same-sex custody battle. The child, Isabella, was conceived by Lisa Miller during her one year civil union to Janet Jenkins. When the couple split in 2003, Miller moved to Virginia with her biological daughter and renounced her homosexuality.
Over the following years, the former couple was in and out of courts in both Vermont and Virginia fighting multiple custody battles. During which time, Miller made it increasingly difficult for Jenkins to see the child.
In this most recent ruling, the judge reversed custody in favor of Jenkins, the non-biological mother, due to Miller’s unwillingness to allow Jenkins to see the girl.
“The court concludes that it is in the best interest of (Isabella) that Ms. Jenkins exercise parental rights and responsibilities,” the judge said. “This court stated 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.”
Miller’s attorney said that Miller plans to appeal the judge’s decision in the Vermont Supreme court, while also continuing a custody case in Virginia. “We’re certainly not happy with the order,” said Miller’s attorney. “I think Lisa is devastated that the court would grant custody to Jenkins — a person who Isabella doesn’t know”
According to one legal commentator, however, the ruling should stand as the courts treat parents in civil unions that same as parents in heterosexual marriages. Many believe that the decision will pave the way for future same-sex custody battles.