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Adoption rights for parents of Native American children clarified

The battle over a child can be a very difficult and even traumatic experience for all those involved. There are so many things to consider in a child custody case, not the least of which is the well being of the child. When someone in Clinton Township is facing a custody battle he or she needs to know how adoption and child custody laws apply to his or her case. 

A three-year-old Native American girl is still in limbo after the Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not apply to her case. The decision by the court overturned a ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The girl was originally adopted at birth after her father had given up his custodial rights. However, he later decided that he wanted the girl back. Citing the ICWA, the South Carolina Supreme Court eventually ruled in his favor.

However, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito argued for the majority that “A biological Indian father ... could play his ICWA trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother's decision and the child's best interests." Meantime, the court’s decision does not necessarily mean that the girl will return to her adoptive parents. The case will now return to South Carolina where a court will have to decide where the girl belongs without applying the ICWA in the decision. 

When questions of child custody arise in kind of separation, it’s important for a person to know the laws and understand how they can affect the case. That’s why seeking the advice of an experienced child custody lawyer can be a good place to start.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Supreme Court Rules on Native American Adoption Case,” Tom Rogan, June 25, 2013

Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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