Indian children involved in state child custody proceedings are covered by ICWA. A person may define his or her identity as Indian but in order for ICWA to apply, the involved child must be an Indian child as defined by the law.
ICWA defines an “Indian child” as “any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (A) a member of an Indian tribe or (B) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe” (25 U.S.C. § 1903). Under federal law, individual tribes have the right to determine eligibility, membership, or both. However, in order for ICWA to apply, the child must be a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
If the Indian child qualifies, the child’s tribe and family have an opportunity to be involved in decisions affecting services for the Indian child.
Attorney John Carelli has successfully completed training in the area of how to properly handle a case involving an Indian child in compliance with ICWA as provided by NICWA.