Most Florida parents only want what is best for their children and see establishing and maintaining a relationship with their child to be of paramount importance. However, a non-Native American parent of a child with Native American heritage may encounter complexities when fighting for child custody with a parent who is Native-American. A recent case highlights some of the issues.
A woman, who had a child with a Native American, sought custody of the child. She claimed that the child was being illegally kept on a reservation in a different state. The court where the case was originally filed ruled that the child must be returned to her mother. However, when the sheriff’s department in the area of the reservation conducted a raid, neither the father nor the child was located.
Recently, a judge in the same state as the reservation ruled that the first ruling was invalid due to a technicality. It is unclear at this time if the child’s mother will continue to pursue custody. The father argues that because the child is of Native American heritage, the case falls under federal law and the laws of the state do not apply. A representative for the sheriff’s office, however, claims that the tribe is not federally recognized, making it illegal for the tribe to take custody of the child.
While most child custody cases are not as complicated as this one, several cases involving the custody of Native American children have recently been in the news in Florida and in other states. While everyone likely wants what is in the best interest of the child, judges must also uphold applicable laws. Because of this, it is important for both sides to be knowledgeable about the different laws that may affect their child custody case.
Source: wrdw.com, Local Indian tribe wins battle in child custody case, Chad Mills, Jan. 13, 2014