Native American Children and Child Custody

Dawn in Mystery ValleyIf you or your spouse or partner is Native American, you may wonder if there are any special laws or rights that come into play in your child custody case. Child custody cases are decided in Arizona courts based on what is in the best interest of the child. While the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to adoptions and foster care, it does not come into play in interfamily custody cases. That does not mean that the child’s heritage is not important or not a factor in the case.

When considering the best interests of a child in a custody case, Arizona state law lays out a list of factors the court must decide. It is by applying these factors that your child’s heritage may become a consideration. The courts are directed to consider the child’s past, present and potential future relationship with each parent. If the native culture has been important part in the relationship shared by your child and one of you, this could be considered.

Courts also must consider not only the child’s interaction and relationship with parents and siblings, but also with any other person that might significantly affect the child’s best interests. A tribe could certainly come into play here, as well as relationships with native relatives such as grandparents, elders, or cousins.

The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community are another consideration that must be evaluated by the court and a connection with native heritage and community would be an important consideration here. Note that if your child lives on tribal lands, the tribal court may have jurisdiction over the custody matter.

Call the Sampair Group with questions about your child custody case in Maricopa County. Our attorneys are ready to meet with you. Call us today for a convenient appointment.