In a recent post we discussed the complicated case of Baby Veronica, a child who is now a toddler who is the subject of a custody dispute that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. As we noted in that post, even though the Supreme Court has already decided that the Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply, the custody dispute between the adoptive parents and the girl’s biological father is not over.
A court in the state where the adoptive parents live finalized the adoption order recently, which meant that the child should have been transferred back to that state. In our earlier post we addressed the fact that this case has a lot of jurisidictional issues because of the competing state court orders. However, in a new development the state where the father lives issued an emergency stay of the transfer, keeping the child with her biological father for the moment.
Again, this case has a lot of specific issues that might not seem applicable to the average Florida family going through a custody dispute. However, the key moment that brought the custody of the child into question is something that could happen in other cases. Mainly, the father did relinquish his parental rights in an agreement with the child’s mother in exchange for being released from his obligation to pay child support. At the same time, he also agreed to an adoption, even though he says he did not understand the agreement that way.
This issue shows the importance of understanding the agreements that one signs and making sure to go over them with a qualified advocate experience in family law issues.
For the moment the chlid remains with her biological father but because of the conflicting state orders the ultimate outcome of this custody dispute is still unknown.
Source: CNN, “New twist in Native American child custody dispute,” Bill Mears, Sept. 3, 2013.