California Rule in Indian Custody Cases Invalidated
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The California Supreme Court on Thursday said a state court rule intended to protect Indian children caught in custody proceedings is invalid because it conflicts with the state's intent to comply with a federal mandate involving Indian families.
In a bid to prevent the breakup of Indian families, Congress in 1978 passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. The act requires Indian guardians and tribes be notified of their right to intervene in custody proceedings involving an Indian child, and that families be provided with remedial services and rehabilitative programs in lieu of removing children from the home.
The act defines "Indian child" as "any unmarried person who is under age 18 and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe."