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Father awarded child custody by tribal court

When one parent is awarded custody of their children during divorce proceedings, that ruling typically stands unless contested through the Illinois family court system. Both parents are expected to abide by the terms of the child custody agreement until or unless a legal change is made. One man recently regained custody of his two daughters after their mother allegedly attempted to conceal them on tribal lands.

The father involved in the dispute was awarded primary custody of his two daughters in August 2013. In October of that year, however, the mother of the two girls allegedly transported them to a South Dakota tribal reservation in spite of the fact that she was only supposed to have them for the weekend. While in the reservation, the woman filed a petition to seek custody of the two girls through the tribal court system.

Because she allegedly violated the terms of the family’s child custody agreement, the mother had an arrest warrant issued against her. However, state authorities were prohibited from pursuing the woman on reservation property. The custody dispute was heard in tribal court in late December, and the original terms of the custody arrangement were upheld. The mother was ordered to relinquish custody of the girls to their father and she was later arrested for parental kidnapping.

The older of the two daughters is now behind in school since the custody dispute lasted months. These types of custody disputes highlight issues that can arise when state and tribal policies come into play.

Source:, “Tribal court orders children returned to the father from Black Hawk,” Joe O’Sullivan, Jan. 5, 201

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