Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Vermont Supreme Court ruling in the same-sex couple's custody case

Here is the opinion from the Vermont Supreme Court in the custody case being fought in Virginia and Vermont courts between two women.

The Court ruled that the Virginia court lacked jurisdiction under Vermont law. That is a strange-sounding sentence, but evidently necessary to the conclusion that the Vermont courts are not bound by the ruling of the Virginia court.

The Court observed: "Whether Virginia must enforce the Vermont visitation order is not directly involved in this appeal, but that is an entirely different question from whether full faith and credit requires the Vermont court to strike its own visitation order because the Virginia court refuses to recognize its validity based entirely on Virginia law."

The case turns in part on a federal law, the Parental Kidnapping Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738A. The presence of this federal statutory question might enhance the prospect for ultimate review by the U.S. Supreme Court, if the dispute continues long enough.

Ironically, concerns about "full faith and credit" are said to underly such initiatives as the same-sex marriage amendment on the ballot in Virginia this November, to make it less likely that Virginia courts will be bound by the decisions of courts in other states, such as Vermont - and in this case involving a Virginian the Vermont court refused to give "full faith and credit" to the decision by the Virginia court based on Virginia law.

The AP has this article about the decision.

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