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Three orphaned girls at the center of tribal custody battle

For young parents in San Antonio, the thrill that their new families bring to them may cause them to overlook certain matters, such as the potential guardianship of their children. While getting people in their 20s and 30s to begin to confront their own mortality may be difficult, pointing out the potential legal problems their inactions could cause may help. Without documentation stating who parents would like to see made their the guardians of their children in the event of their demise, it may be left to the courts to decide in whose custody the kids’ interests would best be served. When multiple parties claim to be able to do just that, things may be complicated.

Such is the state of a custody battle currently going on in California. A local judge recently ordered that three young girls whose parents were killed in a car accident remain in the custody of their late mother’s relatives. This ruling comes as relatives of their father, who are members of a local Indian tribe, are attempting to assert their tribal authority to have the girls placed with the father’s aunt. Federal law seems to support the tribe’s claim. However, two of girls have claimed that they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative during a visit to their father’s aunt’s home. The judge cited this alleged abuse as having a strong influence on his decision.

The decision of who should care for children following the loss of their parents may be a difficult one, especially when there are many parties to choose from who genuinely seem to care for them. Parents may help to avoid any contention that could arise from such a scenario by working with an attorney to set forth what their wishes are in estate planning documents.

Source: The Fresno Bee “A crash killed their parents. Now they’re caught in a fight over custody and tribal rights” Lopez, Pablo, Oct. 29, 2016

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