Custody case goes before Supreme Court

On behalf of Lake Toback Attorneys

Residents of Illinois may be interested to learn that a father in Oklahoma awaits a Supreme Court ruling on whether he will regain custody of his daughter. The case, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, is unusual in that it involves a Native American parent who seeks to re-establish his rights to child custody.

Before the birth of his daughter and with an upcoming deployment to Iraq, the man assumed that signing away custody to his former fiancee and the child’s mother was the best interest of his daughter. He learned after signing papers giving away his custodial rights that the mother intended to give the child up for adoption. Instead of simplifying custody, he unknowingly gave up his rights to his daughter altogether.

In many cases, the states govern child custody cases. For a father who had established little or no contact with his daughter, he likely would have lost any bid for custody of his daughter, but as a member of the Cherokee Nation, the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, comes into play. The ICWA allows Native tribes the ability to intervene when a custody case could potentially cause a member of the tribe to be separated from the tribe. Veronica’s adopted parents live in South Carolina, which would effectively cut her from the Cherokees.

Child custody cases like this one can continue for several years, and involve heartbreak for both biological and adopted parents. While the court’s goal is to decide what is in the best interest of the child, an attorney knows the laws regarding how to establish who is most fit to have custody, and attorneys may explain parents’ rights and options and recommend courses of action.

Source: Tulsa World, “Supreme Court Hears Indian Child Custody Case,” Michael Overall, April 15, 2013

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Custody case goes before Supreme Court