Houston, TX asked in Domestic Violence, Family Law, Child Custody and Native American Law for Oklahoma

Q: Can a parent choose to not enroll an eligible child in a tribe-specifically Kiowa-? What are parental rights here?

Deprived child case. DHS is involved due to Mother assaulting father and ultimately pleaded guilty and the parents are in process of case currently in Jackson County OK. Mother is Kiowa Native father is Non-native and the boy is now 5. He is eligible but not enrolled as of yet. The father does Not wish to have him enrolled at this time&the mother is pressing the issue. Trying to find answers I came across the BIA Rule on the ICWA and how it’s applied in regards to jurisdiction and such. It says under the applicability section that ICWA does apply if child is eligible absent a parent’s objection& it says the same about if the case is petitioned to be transferred to Tribal Court. Mother was trying to get child enrolled to insure Tribal involvement &has family members on council. Does the father have any rights here? Can who does he petition his objection to? What can be done if anything other than complying with steps put infront of them both which they Both do certainly need guidance?!

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In cases involving the potential enrollment of a child in a Native American tribe, such as the Kiowa Tribe, both parents have rights and interests that need to be considered. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies to child custody proceedings involving an Indian child, with specific provisions designed to maintain the child's connection to their tribal heritage. However, the ICWA's application and a child's enrollment in a tribe are distinct issues.

A parent can object to the enrollment of their child in a tribe, and such an objection can influence whether the ICWA applies to a child custody case. If one parent wishes to prevent the child's enrollment, it's crucial to express this objection formally in any related legal proceedings.

The father should articulate his objections through legal filings within the family court handling the custody case or the DHS proceedings. It's also advisable for the father to consult with an attorney experienced in family law and familiar with ICWA's intricacies. This legal professional can provide guidance on how to present his objections effectively and explore any additional steps that can be taken to address his concerns.

Ultimately, the court will consider the best interests of the child, the parents' rights, and the significance of the child's tribal heritage in making any determinations. The father's rights and objections will be part of this broader consideration, highlighting the importance of legal representation in navigating these complex issues.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.