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Court of Appeals remands visitation dispute

The legal wrangling over visitation for 7-year-old Isabella Miller continues.

Isabella was the child born to Lisa Miller in April 2002 after she and Janet Jenkins had entered into a civil union in Vermont.

Miller subsequently sought to have the union dissolved, and Jenkins was awarded visitation rights as part of the dissolution.

However, Miller moved to Virginia with Isabella and has ignored the orders of Vermont courts directing her to allow Isabella to visit Jenkins.

Miller contends that Virginia’s public policy against same-sex unions frees her from any obligation to abide by the Vermont orders,  but the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that the federal parental Kidnapping and Protection Act vests Vermont with sole jurisdiction over custody and visitation of Isabella.

The Supreme Court of Virginia refused in Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins to review the merits of that holding because of procedural problems in the appeal.

Today, the Court of Appeals holds that the Winchester Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to rule on Miller’s request for a declaratory judgment that would have blocked registration of the Vermont visitation order in a Virginia court.

Jenkins already had filed papers to have the order enforced, and the proper procedure is to decide the issues in that proceeding rather than to seek what would have amounted to an advisory opinion, the panel said.

By Alan Cooper

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