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"Baby Veronica" case puts Native custody before high court: pt. 1

In mid-April the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in a high-profile child custody dispute that could have wide-reaching effects for Native American children, their parents and parties who may adopt them. The "Baby Veronica" case, named for the three-year-old Cherokee girl at its center, raises important questions about parental rights and a decades-old federal law.

The young girl is of mixed Caucasian and Native American parentage. Her parents were engaged to be married before she was born but broke it off. Her mother, still pregnant, began the process of placing the baby up for adoption. She met a married couple and they agreed that the couple would adopt the girl.

The father, a Native American, received notice of the adoption and requested a stay of the adoption process. Under a 1978 law called the Indian Child Welfare Act the interests of Indian parents are protected in adoption proceedings. The law was passed at a time when Native children were being adopted off of reservations in droves, sometimes at a detriment to their own identities. The Supreme Court's decision will help shape the application of this law in future cases.

Next week we'll discuss some of the factors that courts usually consider when determining child custody and visitation and how they take into account the best interests of the child(ren).

If you are going through a child custody dispute, it is important to have someone on your side who understands the relevant law and can help you fight to protect your parental rights. Consider contacting an experienced family law attorney who handled child custody matters. He or she can help you preserve your interests and seek the best possible outcome for you and your child(ren).

Source: Yahoo! News, "The Supreme Court's upcoming child-custody decision: The Baby Veronica case," Abigail Perkiss, March 4, 2013

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