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Child custody case questions scope of Indian Child Welfare Act

In a typical custody case, the focus is generally on what is in the best interests of the child. Usually, a child custody battle in Ballantyne is fought over which parent will receive physical custody and in many cases one parent may try to show that the other parent is not fit or poses a danger for the child. In other cases, the child custody case is really about the parents trying to gain control over each other and the child is caught in the middle.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to examine the parameters under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in relation to a child custody dispute. A two-year-old girl was turned over to the custody of her father after the state's Supreme Court ruled that the little girl's Indian blood made it impossible for the girl to remain with her adoptive family.

The case started when the father invoked the ICWA after the girl had been given up for adoption by her mother. The father stated that when he signed away his parental rights, he was not agreeing to an adoption. The case, which was recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, tested emotions on both attorneys and the justices, themselves. The ICWA was enacted to prevent Indian children from being taken away from their families.

If the Supreme Court rules that the ICWA is relevant in this case, it could provide a way for fathers with Native American blood to seek custody of their children when they are given up for adoption. When a parent is facing a custody dispute, they may find it helpful to speak with an attorney.

Source: NPR, "Emotions Run High As Supreme Court Hears Adoption Case," Nina Totenberg, April 16, 2013

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