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What You Need to Know About Child Custody When One Parent Is Native American

Determining child custody after divorce can be an arduous process. It can involve many meetings with lawyers to find an arrangement between parents or even go to court for a judge to decide. The process can be even more complicated when one parent is Native American, leaving more room for discussions about custody and rights according to the law. At Circling Eagle Law, we deal with many cases of child custody involving one or both parents who are Native American. In our latest blog, we break down the essential things to know about child custody when one parent is Native American.

How Does Child Custody Work in North Dakota?

Child custody in North Dakota works very similarly to how it operates in the rest of the United States. Parents can create an agreement with their lawyers or have a judge decide. In any case, the most important thing to consider is what is in the best interest of the child or children. If child custody is brought before a judge, they will base their decision on multiple factors, including:

  • Each parent’s relationship with the child
  • Each parent’s mental and financial ability to care for the child
  • The child’s relationship with extended family
  • The child’s special needs
  • The child’s tie to school and community
  • The moral character of each parent

How Does Child Custody Work When One Parent is Native American?

Regarding child custody, there are no laws granting custody of the child to a parent with Native American ancestry. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), passed into law in 1978, is designed to protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability of their families. This act allows for tribal courts to have jurisdiction over the state courts in the following areas when it comes to child welfare:

  • Guardianships
  • Removal and foster care placements
  • Adoptive placements
  • Voluntary and involuntary termination of parental rights
  • Minor juvenile delinquency cases
  • Divorce proceedings or custody disputes in which neither parent will obtain custody

However, the act does not cover divorce proceedings or custody disputes between families. This means that parents have to follow state laws when deciding custody following a divorce.

Proceeding with Custody Arrangements or Court Custody Battles

The best way to determine custody when one parent is Native American is through a custody agreement between parents. Working with your lawyer, you can come to an arrangement that is in your child's best interest and works for both parents and present this to the court. In cases where this doesn’t work, the case will be brought to a court, and the judge will decide what is best.

Speak to an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Child custody is a complex process and can be very difficult to navigate on your own. We recommend that you speak with a family law attorney who can help you decide the best course of action regarding your case and how to get a favorable outcome for you and your children.

At Circling Eagle Law, we have worked with many clients in their child custody cases. We know the importance of protecting your rights as a parent and protecting the interests of your children. That’s why we work hard for each client to negotiate and get the outcome you want. Whether creating a custody agreement, fighting for you in court, or modifying a custody agreement, we have the experience to fight for you.

Call us at (701) 401-7404 or visit us online to learn more about our child custody services.


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