Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Custody of American Indian Child

This recent custody case involving an American Indian child is interesting because it highlights the high legal standard—beyond-a-reasonable-doubt—to terminate parental rights to an American Indian child.  The Nebraska court found that a drug addiction meets the standard, but the girl's mother was also non-American Indian….. 

From the Associated Press:

CARSON CITY, Nev.—The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld the termination of a mother's parental rights to a 4-year-old daughter who is part American Indian.

Justices ruled Thursday that terminating the rights of the girl's non-Indian mother, Dawn McKay, did not violate the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and Existing Indian Family Doctrine.

The law and doctrine require courts to use a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard before removing an Indian child from parents.

The court said the mother was found to be a chronic marijuana and methamphetamine user and the Nevada Division of Child and Family Service couldn't find the American Indian father.

Justices said the child had bonded with foster parents, who plan to adopt her and teach her Indian heritage.


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