An odd child custody case involving a local family could have nationwide implications.
Lake Havasu City attorney Brad Rideout, working with the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, filed an appeal last month to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that seeks to terminate the parental rights of the mother of his clients. So what would make the nation’s highest court interested in what seems like a fairly pedestrian issue? Jurisdiction, mostly.
Rideout’s clients, you see, are members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. They’re minors, so we don’t know much about them other than the information filed with the court, which identifies them as two teens with a father who is a member of the tribe, and a mother who is not. Interestingly, it’s the father who wants to terminate the parental rights of the mother — and CRIT courts have so far refused to intervene. Tribal law requires a higher standard than other U.S. courts when it comes to such cases.
Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, parental rights can only be severed if it’s found beyond a reasonable doubt that children are at risk of harm. Testimony to this fact must come from expert witnesses, and under tribal law, it must be proven that an effort was made to keep children with their biological parents.
The children in this case allege a history of neglect by their mother, and a history of substance abuse. Rideout says the court has used the Indian Child Welfare Act to keep the mother in the children’s lives, putting them at risk of harm.
The appeal claims that applying the act…
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