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The rights of American Indian tribes as pertains to child custody

A Pennsylvania court found itself in the middle of a controversy when it ordered an out-of-state American Indian tribe to return a 2-year-old child to the mother. The child was believed to be with its father.

However, in a family court a judge determined that such an order could not be enforced in the other state. The attorney for the father never was required to argue on behalf of the father before the Pennsylvania ruling was vacated.

In this case, a state law pertaining to child custody did not pertain to an American Indian child due to the presence of a federal statute. However, there was also an ongoing argument that the tribe in question, the Yamassee Nation, was not federally recognized. Still, the attorney for the father maintained that the tribe should receive judicial recognition.

Though the Sheriff's Office had an outstanding warrant for the arrest of the father, the warrant is to be pulled in light of the family court order. However, they also state that if the mother continues to wish to pursue the child custody matter, they will encourage her to file for an order in the other state (South Carolina) rather than file again in Pennsylvania courts.

It's always wise to speak to an experienced family law attorney before becoming tangled up in child custody disputes. These matters can often turn out to be more complex than was anticipated. While child custody matters generally revolve around the welfare of the child, there are often a large variety of considerations that need to be made in determining what is in the child's best interests. This can include cultural considerations regarding the child's upbringing or other factors.

Source: WRDW-TV, "Local Indian tribe wins battle in child custody case," Jan. 13, 2014

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