Historically, many Native American and Alaskan Native Tribes did not collect monetary child support. In fact, many Tribes had other culturally appropriate methods and manners in addressing family disputes and issues of support. Due to the jurisdictional and cultural issues, several tribes have been given the authority and power to create and enforce their own child support program. These programs are specific to each tribe and take into consideration the culture of the families they are serving. Most of the programs are state-funded and often working in partnership and cooperation with state child support programs.
These programs help with:
- Finding the non-custodial parent
- Establishing paternity
- Establishing child support
- Collecting child support
- Assisting state child support programs in collections for non-custodial parents who work for tribal entities
- Connecting eligible parents with employment programs, health care coverage, parenting programs, family violence centers, and any other additional family support services they may need
Finding the non-custodial parent and establishing paternity will be required in order to get your case started. Utilizing these agencies is in your best interest.
Tribal Child Support Agencies
In the event that your tribe does not have an agency, you will need to go through your state’s child enforcement agency. To learn if your tribe has a child support program, you can check here for a list of agencies and their contact information.
Depending on your family’s situation, it can be confusing determining which agency to go to if your tribe has a child support agency. If you and your child’s other parent are from different tribes, you can apply for services with either tribe or go through the state’s agency. If only one parent is a member of the tribe, the tribe will have jurisdiction over the state. Jurisdictional issues might arise when a parent is a member of the tribe and the other parent is a non-member but working for a tribal entity.
Enforcing Child Support in Tribes
To enforce tribal support, income withholding is required when the money that is owed equals one month of support payments. There are different methods to do this. Some tribes enforce child support using grandparents as mediators, garnishing per capita payments, or using Individual Indian Money accounts. However, this is not true for every tribe, as each one has their own methods.
A Tribal Lawyer Can Help
Each tribe operates differently and will have unique procedures for their program. In order to get a better understanding of your case and what your tribe’s child support policies are, reach out to our Fargo tribal law attorneys at Circling Eagle Law. We can discuss your child support options to ensure you and your child’s rights are thoroughly protected.
Call Circling Eagle Law today at (701) 401-7404 discuss your child support case.