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Virginia upholds Vermont grant of same-sex ex-partner child visitation rights

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Virginia [official website] has upheld [ruling, PDF] a woman's visitation rights regarding a child who was born to her former lesbian partner while the two were engaged in a same-sex union under Vermont law [Vermont Act 91 text]. Without reaching the merits of the case [press release], the court ruled Friday for Janet Jenkins against Lisa Miller, finding that Miller's original complaint against visitation was effectively identical to one on which a lower court had already ruled and for which she had missed the deadline to appeal. In that earlier case, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled [PDF text; JURIST report] that Virginia state courts had a constitutional obligation to defer to the rulings of Vermont courts in a child custody dispute involving two lesbian partners who had entered into a Vermont civil union. AP has more.

A court in Virginia granted full custody [JURIST report] to Miller in 2004, with the judge declaring that since Virginia law does not legally recognize unions between members of the same sex, Miller was the child's "sole parent." In August 2005, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that Vermont had exclusive jurisdiction [JURIST report] over the case since the couple's civil union had taken place under Vermont laws.

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