The child custody dispute between “Baby Veronica’s” biological father – who is part Cherokee — and her adoptive parents may finally be coming to a much-anticipated close. After the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision this past June, essentially restoring the young child to her adoptive family’s home, her biological father refused to cooperate and hand over the girl. Because of this, she remained in Oklahoma with the Cherokee Nation, who insisted that the child would remain with the tribe. However, just last week, yet another court heard the dispute. The Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved a temporary court order leaving the child with her father and his family.
Unfortunately for parents, and especially for the children involved, child custody battles can be prolonged and bring out the worst in people. One would expect and hope that each parent is arguing over custody issues because they want to spend as much time as possible with their children. But at the core of these disputes, is typically an innocent child who simply wants the matter to be worked out, and as quickly as possible. The case mentioned above has been drawn out for two years, with the young child being moved around between families. If you are faced with a potential child custody dispute or issue of any kind, it is important to contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the proceedings as possible. An experienced attorney can help ease you through the process, protect your rights and try to achieve what would be in the best interests of your children.
In an earlier blog post, we reported on the facts of the case and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. Essentially, Baby Veronica was living with a family from her birth until she was 27 months old when her biological father was awarded custody based on the1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (federal law). The intent of the law was to make it more difficult for American Indian children to be taken from their families. The Court had to decide whether the law should be applied when it appeared to conflict with state law in South Carolina (where the custody dispute originated). The Court held that the federal law did not require the child to be returned to her father, finding that the statute did not apply to this case, since the Indian parent did not actually have custody of the child at any point in time.
The child is now four years old and back with her adoptive parents, after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said it didn’t have jurisdiction over the child. As a quick reminder, although this case did not arise in California, the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court reach courthouses throughout the country, and would serve as precedence if similar facts should arise in a San Diego court case. The courts in California have unique procedures for child custody cases. The local rules and other requirements are specific to this jurisdiction and must be followed accordingly. A local family law attorney with experience in the area should be able to guide you through the process.
Parents with questions about child custody matters may contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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