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U.S. high court to hear custody dispute case

While child custody issues are relatively straightforward in many instances, there can be unique considerations when it comes to adopted children. It is sometimes the case that one of an adopted child's biological parents will decide that he or she does not want to relinquish parental rights. This can create a heart-breaking situation for adoptive parents who have been raising a child and who must now ask the court for help in determining child custody.

Texas parents may be interested to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from adoptive parents in just such a child custody dispute. The case involves a couple who was forced by a court to give up custody of a toddler, whom they had raised since birth, to the child's birth father, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

According to the father and his attorney, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 governs his entitlement to custody of the child. The South Carolina Supreme Court awarded him custody, and it was the ruling of the court that the 1978 act gives preference to the birth father over any adoptive parents. Now, the adoptive parents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision. The case is expected to be decided later this year.

This decision has the capacity to impact thousands of adoptions involving Native American children. It is important for birth parents and adoptive parents alike to know their rights and responsibilities in adoption and child custody cases.

Source: Startribune.com, "Supreme Court to review Native American child custody case," Jan. 4, 2013

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