State level Supreme Court declines hearing of child custody case

In 1978, a law was passed to keep the U.S. government from separating native American families in California or anywhere, except under certain circumstances. In a child custody battle that has been lingering for years, one parent is of native American descent, the other is not. The parents are fighting over custody of their two children who, of course, are part native American.

Attorneys speaking on the children's behalves say the Indian Child Welfare Act should have no bearing on the case because it is a private matter that in no way involves the U.S. government. The attorneys further argued that giving the decades-old Act bearing on a current custody case that does not involve the government impedes the court from acting in children's best interests. The Act was originally set forth to protect native Americans from mistreatment that had been occurring at the hands of government agencies and other officials.

This particular situation is quite complex, and each side has its own supporters. Some say those arguing that the ICWA has nothing to do with this case are, in fact, trying to use this case to do away with the law itself. However, the ICWA has been constitutionally upheld time and time again through the years.

The deeper question is whether the ICWA pertains directly to this particular child custody battle. The mother in the situation reportedly moved her children without permission in 2009. After that incident, the father unsuccessfully petitioned the court to have her parental rights revoked. The Supreme Court in Arizona recently refused to hear the case. Anyone in California facing complicated custody issues may seek counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

Source:, "Supreme Court won't hear Arizona case on custody fight over tribal kids", Andrew Nicla, Nov. 21, 2017

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