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Child custody dispute goes before Supreme Court

Spokane residents who have gone through or who are in the middle of a custody dispute understand that is can be an epic battle. There is a great deal on the line, and it is a time where emotions can flare and a court is called in to make a life-changing decision regarding the best interests of a child are, and which parent will be awarded custody.

Recently, a child custody case was heard by the Supreme Court about a South Carolina couple who adopted a baby at birth, and the baby's biological father, a part-Cherokee Indian, who is now seeking custody of the girl under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Court must determine who will raise the 3 ½ year-old girl. The baby was originally given up for adoption by her biological mother. The case reached the high court because it deals with the ICWA. While originally the father agreed to the adoption, five days later he decided he made a mistake, misunderstood what he had signed, and sought custody of his daughter. The lower courts labeled the adoptive parents as ideal, but decided that the father had not given up his parental rights, and as a Cherokee Indian, federal law would require that his daughter live with him. The Court must now weight the best interests of the child, against the federal ICWA law.

Child custody cases in family courts can be some of the most difficult and heated cases that a court will hear. Determining who will have custody of a child has monumental implications and will ultimately result in how a child will be cared for, and by which parent. While the current case is special in that it invokes federal law, most child custody cases will be heard and resolved in state court. A family court judge will consider a number of factors, but mostly what will be in the best interest of the child.

Child custody cases can be emotionally overwhelming and very difficult. An attorney can help to evaluate your case and advise you regarding your legal options, as well as the potential likelihood of getting custody of your child.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Supreme Court hears custody dispute over adopted girl," David Savage, April 16, 2013

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