The child custody matter that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court still seems a long way from being resolved. The case pits the rights of the biological father of a four-year-old girl, who happens to be a Cherokee Indian, and the rights of a couple who adopted the young girl after the mother gave the child up.
The biological father won a judgment in state court when the girl was only two. The child was awarded to him under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 that was passed to discourage the separating of American Indian children from their families and tribes. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this piece of federal legislation did not apply to this particular case because the father never had physical custody of the child to begin with. Therefore, the case was remanded to the lower court to reconsider the child custody decision.
Child custody matters often revolve around various factors. Determinations need to be made as to who would be best suited as parent. Also taken into consideration will be the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. In instances involving American Indian children rulings may also revolve around the circumstances of a child’s cultural upbringing.
Needless to say such determinations are often complex. For example, in Louisiana family law attorneys will often argue in court that the chief factor in all child custody matters is determining what is in the best interest of the child. However, sometimes the parties in child custody disputes have extremely different ideas as to what the best interest may be.
Whatever differences we may have, however, it’s always best for those engaged in a custody dispute to be respectful towards each other.
Source: ABC News, ” ‘Baby Veronica’ Custody Case Rages On,” Ariane de Vogue, Sep. 11, 2013