Child custody case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Custody on Monday, October 15, 2012.

An adoptive couple appealed a state court ruling in a custody case to the U.S. Supreme Court after the presiding judge relied on the Indian Child Welfare Act to place a child back in the care of her biological father. The high court's consideration of and ruling on the child custody issue will have important implications on courts throughout the country, including those in Virginia.

This is an interesting child custody dispute issue. It involves a couple from a neighboring state of Virginia that appealed a state court decision in a child custody case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The husband and wife are the non-Native American adoptive parents of a 2-year-old girl. However, in the state court proceedings, the judge awarded the biological, Native American father custody of the girl and ordered that she be sent back to live with her father.

The adoptive parents disagree with the lower court's decision. They want the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether a non-custodial parent can rely on the Indian Child Welfare Act to block a legal adoption by a non-Native American parent. The couple's attorneys note that the interpretation of the act is an issue that divides many state courts.

Virginian child custody may be greatly impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in this matter. Child custody cases always pose unique and emotional issues. The role of the Indian Child Welfare Act is just another factor that Virginia judges may have to consider when resolving disputes related to adoption and custody rights. Typically, biological parents must give their consent to an adoption, which is usually done in writing. It is difficult to revoke an adoption. The legal system wants to create stable environments that serve the best interests of the child.

By relying on the Indian Child Welfare Act, it appears that biological parents may be able to subvert the underlying principles of adoption and custody cases. Accordingly, the high court's interpretation of the act will greatly affect cases revolving around this law. Virginians should take note of the importance of this case and track its progress and ultimate resolution.

Source:, "Couple appeals custody case to Supreme Court," Bruce Smith, Oct. 5, 2012

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