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Child custody dispute pits tribal courts against parents

From time to time, a custody battle arises that involves a Native American tribal court. Very often, these cases receive a great deal of media attention in Texas and elsewhere due to issues of jurisdiction and authority of tribal courts outside of established reservation land. An example is currently in the news, and centers on a couple who lost child custody of their infant daughter just days after her birth. 

The maternal grandmother did not want the child's father, a white man, to have any involvement in the child's life. To ensure that outcome, she went to a tribal court and gained custody of the child, without the knowledge or participation of the parents. Once she had a court order giving her custody, she had state and tribal authorities remove the baby from the hospital. 

The mother claims that she had no idea what was happening when authorities came to her hospital room and explained that she no longer had custody of her newborn child. She also asserts that she was not shown any legal documentation on the matter. She was not allowed to see or hold her child before she was removed from the hospital. 

It is unclear where the grandmother and child are now located, or what the next legal steps will be in the matter. The parents are vowing to fight for their daughter's return. However, if the tribal court retains authority over the matter, they could be facing a serious uphill child custody battle. Texas readers will likely hear more about this case in the weeks ahead. 

Source: CBS Miami, "Florida Couple Claims Hospital Allowed Miccosukee Police To Take Newborn Baby With Bogus Court Order", March 21, 2018

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