New developments have come to light in a high profile child custody case involving the question of Native American tribal law. Florida readers of this blog may have heard about the case of baby Veronica. The 4-year-old girl’s biological father has fighting for child custody after her mother have her up for adoption. What is particular about this case is the fact that the little girl has Native American blood and her father is a member of the Cherokee nation.
Last June, a state Supreme Court awarded custody to the girl’s adoptive parents, who had adopted her legally when she was only a baby. According to the justices who decided the case, the adoption followed proper procedure and did not violate the rights of the girl’s father, who is a registered Cherokee tribe member. The court further stated that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not have jurisdiction over this case because the father had neither physical nor legal child custody of the girl during the adoption proceedings.
However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which decided the case, made an emergency decision to delay transferring the young girl to the adoptive parents. Attorneys representing the biological and the adoptive parents were to attend a closed-door court hearing. As of Sept. 3, it was not known how the court would ultimately decide the child custody matter.
Native American tribes and tribal law exist in the state of Florida. In rare cases, it can affect legal matters such as child custody. When it comes to a parent’s rights to custody of his or her biological child, there are many legal strategies that can be employed, invoking tribal law being only one of them.