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Child Custody Case Making National News Concerning Tribal Rights

On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law, posted in child custody on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Several years ago, a story broke concerning the proper placement for a child of Native American heritage. Though that battle waged for some time, the main issue was whether a Native American child should be raised by his or her blood tribal relatives. Though there are currently no reservations located in Kentucky, there are still members of several tribes that reside here who may be interested in these types of child custody cases.

Recently, a custody battle gained national headlines when a Native American woman filed for emergency custody of her newborn grandchild as well as two older grandchildren. The woman enlisted the assistance of the tribal police who then contacted the police department in the county where her grandchild had just been born. Acting on what they believed were federal orders, officers accompanied tribal officials to a local hospital and took physical custody of the 2-day-old infant.

The grandmother alleged that the child was in danger from her parents — especially the birth father who supposedly had physically abused the two older children in the home. The mother of the children has insisted that her relative is acting out of racial motives, as the biological father of the baby is a white man. She further claims that the children have not been harmed.

Senator Marco Rubio, from Florida — where this incident took place — expressed his outrage over what he calls false pretenses and an abuse of power by tribal authorities. The police department is likewise conducting a review of the matter and what further actions may be necessary. The majority of child custody disputes are between biological parents; however, if any Kentucky resident is concerned about the welfare of a relative’s child, he or she may seek information concerning custody arrangements that would best serve the child involved.

Source:, “Child custody case erupts in dispute between state and Native American tribe”, March 22, 2018

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