Family Law in Indian Country:
A Comparative Approach


During this information-packed class, our expert will review tribal vs. state concepts surrounding jurisdiction, marriage, divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency and elder issues. Using a comparative case study approach, we'll examine critical issues that must be considered when writing tribal codes and court rules, entering into agreements with state agencies, planning programs to assist families and preparing to deal with the players in all of the various jurisdictions that impact how family law principles are implemented in and around Indian communities.

T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Federal Indian Law and Jurisdiction
  • How Indian law impacts critical jurisdictional considerations in family law
  • Concepts of tribal sovereignty, reserved rights and political status
  • Tribal powers in relation to state powers
  • Tribes and federal laws, rules and administrative guidelines intended to rule and regulate states
Marriage and Family in Indian Country
  • Legal marriage traditions in non-Indian systems of government
  • Comparison of a state legal approach to marriage and a tribal cultural approach
  • Defining “family” under tribal law and conflict with non-Indian-generated legal definitions
  • Family roles and the impact on the execution of legal rights and responsibilities in Indian families as compared to those in non-Indian families
Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country
  • ICWA — Basic purpose and function of ICWA compared to state civil abuse laws and procedures
  • Tribal children’s codes and the handling of abuse/neglect in tribal courts
  • Placement issues in the various jurisdictions
  • Rights of parents, children and tribes in child abuse cases
  • Adoption inside and outside of Indian Country
  • Best interest of Indian kids — Who decides?
  • Criminal codes and child abuse:
    • Issues on punishment and rehabilitation of abusers
  • Federal abuse/neglect laws and their application in Indian Country
  • Terminating parental rights
  • Foster care
  • Differences between cultural and legal approaches to divorce law in Indian Country and states
  • State and tribal approaches to custody and parenting time law
  • Spousal and child support
  • Cross-jurisdictional issues associated with enforcing divorce and custody orders
  • Paternity issues — state vs. tribal legal concepts
  • Procedural issues in divorce cases
Domestic Violence in Indian Country
  • Defining “domestic violence” — Conflicts of culture
  • Criminal law and jurisdictional issues in dealing with batterers
  • Sheltering victims
  • Tribal codes and tribal courts
  • Restraining orders
Juvenile Delinquency
  • Tribal codes
  • Cross-jurisdictional issues in dealing with tribal children who break the law
  • Sentencing alternatives
  • Schools and issues with expulsion
  • Placement issues for tribes and developing community-based resources
  • Education issues and status offenses
  • Mental health issues in delinquency cases
Elder Law in Indian Country
  • Grandparent rights in divorce, child abuse and delinquency cases:
    • Tribal codes compared to state laws
  • Elder abuse and community response
  • Conflict of laws affecting elders
  • Living wills
  • Nursing home care
Special Issues
  • Indian with non-Indian marriage and divorce:
    • Custody issues
    • Rights of non-Indian
    • When does state law apply?
    • Paying support from per-capita payments

    *Topics subject to change.

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