For many individuals, the issue of child custody can be best determined by who has the means and ability to best provide for the interests of a child. Although this governing principle presides in most Texas child custody cases, there may also be other relevant laws that can play a role in the court’s determination. One such law, labeled the Indian Child Welfare Act, is designed to provide the tribe of a Native American child the right to gain custody of a child that has been placed in the custody of the state without tribal involvement. One recent case has given rise to concerns over its proper application.
The case that triggered the controversy occurred outside of Texas, when a 2-year-old girl was taken from her adoptive parents and given to her biological father, who is Native American. The child had been relinquished by her mother and, as a result, the state took custody of the child. The state Supreme Court cited the Indian Child Welfare Act as one of the guiding principles in its decision, holding that the child’s biological father (who the child had never met) had a right to care for the child as provided by the terms of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
After the decision was rendered, individuals from across the country began looking at ways to petition the government to amend the law. However, advocates for the law have stated that the law is fine the way it is. They assert that it is straightforward in how it should be interpreted, and they also noted that the law allows for a court to deny custody to a tribe if there is good cause shown.
There are various laws and regulations in Texas and at the federal level that may play a role in the determination of who will be granted child custody. Understanding these laws and how they apply to a specific case may be important for those who are currently embroiled in the family court system. This understanding may allow an interested party to present the best case possible, as to why they should be given the child custody rights they seek.
Source: Tulsa World, “Tribes reject proposal to change law dealing with child custody,” Jarrel Wade, Dec. 3, 2012