The Strange, Sad Case of Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins
When Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins entered into a civil union in the state of Vermont in 2000, it's unlikely they realized there would be years of Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins ahead of them.
Two years later, in 2002, Lisa Miller gave birth to a child conceived through artificial insemination, and the couple ended their relationship in 2003.
Their 7-year-old daughter, Isabella, has been at the center of a custody dispute for those ensuing years, a custody dispute finally settled by a Vermont judge who has ordered that Lisa Miller, the birth mother who now lives in Virginia, must surrender her daughter to her former partner, Janet Jenkins, in Vermont this Friday, January 1, 2010.
Unfortunately, that is now complicated by the fact that Miller has disappeared with the child.
Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen, the same judge who dissolved the civil union, initially gave custody to Miller as biological parent but granted visitation to Jenkins. Miller then fled to Virginia to avoid having to comply with the court ordered visitation. On November 20th of this year, Cohen ordered that custody be transferred to Jenkins after finding Miller in contempt for refusing to comply with the visitation order.
It is unknown whether Miller is simply not in contact with her attorneys, or has fled with the minor child. She has been ordered to turn Isabella over to Jenkins' parents at 1 p.m. Friday at their home in Fair Haven, Vermont.
The bitter custody dispute has been complicated by accusations of lifestyle impropriety on both sides, as Miller became an evangelical Christian after moving to Virginia and now condemns homosexuality, and Jenkins doesn't want the child living in a religious home where alternate lifestyles are condemned. Isabella has not lived with Jenkins since she was an infant, and is now enrolled in a Christian school. Despite their differences, Jenkins has agreed to include Miller in Isabella's life.
The November ruling reversing custody was considered groundbreaking in case law. Judge Cohen indicated he felt it was the only way it could be insured that the child had contact with both Miller and Jenkins.
In a recent phone interview with the Rutland (Vt) Herald, Carl Tobias, professor of law at the University of Richmond, emphasized the impact of the decision in case law. "It's a very important decision that I think will be influential beyond the borders of the states where these cases have been argued," Tobias told the newspaper.
Miller's disappearance comes after the judge did not grant her a time extension to turn the child over to her former partner.
On the Web:
Mrs. Kramer vs. Mrs. Kramer - Newsweek
In happier times, Janet Miller-Jenkins, Lisa Miller-Jenkins and Isabella. A Vermont judge recently reversed custody in the dispute over the child, who is now seven.