Burke Levy, P.C.

Unusual child custody case sparks debate across the nation

Some Massachusetts readers are familiar with a custody battle involving the authority of tribal courts. The case centers on two parents who lost custody of their infant daughter before they were even able to take the child home from the hospital. The maternal grandmother, part of the Miccosukee tribe, gained child custody rights through a tribal court. There is no word on what grounds that decision was made, and the parents claim that they have not yet seen the legal documentation used to remove their infant. 

When the grandmother showed up at the hospital with state and tribal officers, hospital administrators allowed them to take the infant from the facility. The grandmother allegedly took issue with the child's father, a white man, being part of her grandchild's life. There is also an allegation that the parents had physically disciplined another child in their care. 

The parents had no opportunity to fight the issue at the time the child was removed from the hospital, but are now taking legal action to have their daughter returned. There is no word on where the grandmother and infant are located. If they are on tribal land, the matter could become even more complicated. 

This is one of several recent cases that will challenge the authority and jurisdiction of tribal courts. Similar child custody cases have gone before courts across the nation. Many Massachusetts residents feel that tribal courts sometimes abuse their authority to intervene in child custody matters, which is an issue that sparks debate whenever these types of cases arise.  

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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