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Child custody case may have some influence on Georgia parents

Residents in Georgia may be interested to hear of a child custody case going on in another state. The mother is an American Indian, the father is not. The mother wants sole custody of the children but the father wants shared child custody.

There is the question of whether the Indian nation or the state will have jurisdiction over the custody hearing. The jurisdiction is determined by the place the children resided 6 months prior to the beginning of the custody proceedings. The mother claims the two children lived with her on the reservation and the children went to school there but the father says she only moved there when the custody proceedings began. He claims he and his parents have a very close relationship with the children and he wants to be able to spend time with them. 

The parents have never married but had an unofficial custody agreement after their relationship ended. The children did live with the mother but spent time with the father on weekends or if the mother had a need for him to keep the children. Things began to change when the mother began a new relationship.

The mother filed for child custody with the tribal nation first and the court set the hearing for the next month. The father filed the next month with the state court but went to the hearing on the reservation. His lawyer was not allowed in the courtroom; the reason given was that he did not speak the tribal language. Custody was given to the mother at the conclusion of that hearing.

The state court judge has ruled that the father should have the chance to prove that the children actually did live in the state and not on the reservation. A report did not state when this chance will occur within the court system. In this state, as in Georgia, the parents and the courts need to keep in mind the best interests of the children when awarding child custody.

Source: Miami Herald, "Child custody case tests jurisdiction of Miccosukee, Miami-Dade courts," David Ovalle, July 6, 2013

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