The Indian Child Welfare Act protects Native American children in adoption and foster care placement, and in the termination of parental rights. It generally doesn't come into play when parents are divorcing.
That does not mean that tribal courts don't have jurisdiction for child custody. If you're going through a divorce and either party is Native American, you should talk with a lawyer like Brian Utsey who is knowledgeable about Indian Law.
Understanding Child Custody
There are actually two types of child custody, legal custody and physical custody.
When the courts decide legal custody, they are deciding who will make the major decisions concerning a minor child. Physical custody is concerned with where the child lives.
If one parent is awarded sole legal custody (also known as custodial custody), that parent is responsible for making all the major decisions concerning the child. This doesn't stop the parents from discussing decisions; it just means that one parent has the final say.
Joint legal custody is when both parents are active in making the decisions about the child. The courts usually grant joint legal custody when the parents cooperate with each other. If the parents are not speaking to each other during the divorce proceedings, it is less likely that they will get joint legal custody. Joint legal custody does not mean that the child's time is evenly split between the parents. Usually, one parent or the other is awarded more physical custody so the child's life isn't disrupted entirely.
Visitation rights. Even if one parent is granted sole legal custody and physical custody of the children, the courts recognize that having both parents involved in a child's life is very important. In those cases, parenting time (or visitation) is decided by the court. This gurantees that the non-custodial parent still has the opportunity to be involved with the child.
Supervised visitation. In some cases where abuse has taken place, the courts can grant supervised visitation. In this case, a person can be assigned to oversee the visitation by the parent in question. This allows the children time to see the parent while keeping them safe.
In all cases, the courts are looking out for what is in the best interest of the child. Child custody attorney Brain Utsey can help you decide what you can reasonably ask the court to do concerning the parenting of your children.
You initial consultation is free.
Brian Utsey is experienced Arizona and Native American child custody attorney and will explain your options concerning child custody. Just call and he'll make arrangements to meet you at a location convenient to you. He'll answer your questions and give you options concerning your child custody case. It's worth a call.