- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MONTPELIER, Vt. | The birth mother of a 7-year-old Virginia girl must transfer custody of the child to the woman’s former lesbian partner, a Vermont judge ruled, adding that it seems the woman has “disappeared” with her daughter.

Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ordered Lisa Miller, of Winchester, Va., to turn over daughter Isabella to Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven at 1 p.m. Friday at the Virginia home of Ms. Jenkins’ parents.

But in the Dec. 22 order denying Ms. Miller’s request to delay the transfer of Isabella, Judge Cohen wrote: “It appears that Ms. Miller has ceased contact with her attorneys and disappeared with the minor child.”

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

Judge Cohen awarded custody of the girl to Ms. Jenkins on Nov. 20 after finding Ms. Miller in contempt of court for denying Ms. Jenkins access to the girl.

The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody. He also said the benefits to the child of having access to both parents would be worth the difficulties of the change.

Mathew Staver, Ms. Miller’s attorney, declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the case.

A listing for Lisa Miller in Winchester says the phone line has been temporarily disconnected at the customer’s request.

Ms. Jenkins’ attorney, Sarah Star, said she hopes Ms. Miller is simply not communicating with her attorneys but plans to comply with the order.

“It is Ms. Jenkins’ intent when she has custody of Isabella to allow as liberal contact as is possible with her other mother,” Ms. Star said Tuesday.

When Judge Cohen dissolved the civil union, he awarded custody to Ms. Miller but granted liberal visitation rights to Ms. Jenkins.

The supreme courts of Virginia and Vermont ruled in favor of Ms. Jenkins, saying the case was the same as a custody dispute between a heterosexual couple. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear arguments on it.

*AP writer Steve Szkotak contributed to this report from Richmond.

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