Vermont court orders lesbian to pay child support to ex-partner

Anthony Cuesta | January 19, 2007

BURLINGTON — A Vermont court has ordered a woman to pay her lesbian former partner $240 a month in child support – in a case of two states with differing legal views on same-sex relationships.

The Associated Press reports that last month's Rutland Family Court ruling comes amid a continuing custody battle between Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller over 4-year-old Isabella.

Miller gave birth to Isabella, who was conceived through artificial insemination, after the couple legally joined in a civil union in 2002, reports the AP.

But about a year later, Miller renounced her homosexuality, returned home to Winchester, Va., and denied Jenkins visitation rights.

Since then, Vermont courts have ordered that Jenkins, who lives in Fair Haven, Vt., be allowed to visit Isabella, but a court in Virginia – which does not recognize same-sex unions – has granted Miller sole parental rights.

A Virginia appeals court ruled late last year that Vermont has jurisdiction. Miller has vowed to appeal.

Jenkins told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she sent the first child support check by certified mail, only to have it returned, and tried to make the second payment through an Internet bill-paying service.

The Times-Dispatch reports that Jenkins expects the dissolution of her civil union with Miller will be made final in April. As part of the final order, she told the Times-Dispatch, she planned to ask for full custody, allowing for supervised visits between Miller and Isabella.

Vermont has treated the case much like a standard divorce and custody battle. In that state in November, Family Court Judge William Cohen found Miller in contempt of court for failing to allow Jenkins to visit the girl, ordering Miller to pay more than $9,000 in fines and costs. That order has been stayed while further appeals are pending in Virginia. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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