Native American tribe engaged in child custody battle

Not all custody battles in Maryland are between parents who divorce. Some situations may involve other family relatives. An ongoing child custody battle in another state arose after a horrific accident that left three children orphaned.

The tragic incident involved a motor vehicle crash that occurred in December 2015. It was a head-on collision that took the lives of a 26-year-old man and his 24-year-old wife. Sadly, the fatal accident left three children, ages 2, 4 and 6 without parents.

The court has awarded temporary custody of the children to their maternal aunt and uncle. However, members of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians are fighting against the aunt and uncle for custody. The tribe is contesting the federal ruling, citing the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, employed in 1978, which grants tribal courts ruling authority in custody situations involving American Indian children.

The Shingle Springs tribe contends that since the father of the children was a member of the tribe, his children also are members; therefore, the Tribal Court should be honored as the final voice of authority in the situation, in keeping with the tribe's status as a sovereign nation within the United States. This particular custody battle is being closely watched by many in a U.S. District Court. An experienced attorney understands that keeping a child's best interests at heart is of paramount importance, regardless of particular (albeit possibly sensitive) circumstances. Any concerned parent or prospective guardian in Maryland facing uncommon child custody issues may seek guidance from a family law attorney before entering any negotiations or litigation concerning the matter.

Source: Miami Herald, "Girls caught in custody battle after parents are killed in head-on collision", Pablo Lopez, Oct. 30, 2016