Indian Child Termination
of Parental Rights Attorney
Whenever the parents of a Native American child are being investigated for possible termination of parental rights, the court has looked to the Indian Child Welfare Act for guidance. The Indian Child Welfare Act states that the Indian tribe has authority to decide the issue at hand in a forced court proceeding over an Indian child – such as termination of parental rights, foster care placement, and custody disputes.. The Indian Child Welfare Act states:
In any involuntary proceeding in a State court, where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved, the party seeking the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to an Indian child shall notify the parent or Indian custodian and the Indian child’s tribe. An “Indian child” is defined as: any unmarried person who is under the age of eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.
Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an Indian child’s tribe is entitled to notice of termination of parental rights hearings where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved. 25 USC 1912(a).
Determining if a child, or person, is in fact a member of a particular Indian tribe, is a question for the tribe itself to answer. In re NEGP, 245 Mich App 126, 133 (2001). Native American tribes are in a better position to determine any question involving the relationship and/or membership of children to the tribe. Therefore, courts should always defer to the tribal experience in these cases.
As aggressive advocates for our clients in all Children’s Protective Services cases, having an attorney that knows the special regulations when a Native American child is the subject of litigation could be the difference in staying in your child’s life.
If you are afraid of a termination of your parental rights and belong or could belong to an Indian tribe, then you need an attorney who has experience in dealing with CPS and knows the nuances of the Indian Child Welfare Act. We are available 24/7 for an online screening or phone consultation. Call us today at 1-866-766-5245.