On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a state court ruling that could affect child custody and adoption cases in Missouri and elsewhere.
The case involves a South Carolina couple who adopted a Native American girl, only to lose custody of the child and see her returned to her biological father living in Oklahoma.
The girl, three years old, was returned to her biological father, who is of Cherokee descent.
The South Carolina couple’s adoption was invalidated by that state’s Supreme Court, which invoked the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which it said gives preference in custody disputes to the father. The law was passed in 1978 in response to Native American children being removed by state agencies and private adoption agencies.
The father argued that the law that was to protect American Indians from child welfare agency abuse entitled him to gain custody of his biological daughter.
The South Carolina couple had raised and cared for the girl since her birth.
The girl was conceived while her biological father and mother were engaged. When the engagement was called off, the mother, who is not Native American, put the girl up for adoption.
A South Carolina Supreme Court justice who dissented from that court’s ruling called the case a “human tragedy” caused by the court’s willingness to elevate the Indian Child Welfare Act over South Carolina state custody and adoption laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is expected later this year and could impact thousands of adoption and custody cases per year.
Those facing a child custody dispute should discuss their legal options with an attorney experienced in these often emotionally and legally complex matters.
Source: Associated Press, “Court to review Native American adoption case,” Jan. 4, 2012.
Our Missouri firm represents clients in St. Louis custody disputes.