Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

The Indian Child Welfare Act (called “ICWA”) is a law passed by Congress in 1978 that was originally designed to preserve American Indian families and culture with enhanced procedural protections to prevent the unwarranted removal of American Indian children from their homes. This act also strives to ensure that when American Indian children are removed from their families, they are placed in culturally appropriate homes whenever possible.

ICWA applies to cases involving an American Indian child and custody proceedings in juvenile court, including foster care, termination, and adoption proceedings. ICWA also may apply in third-party custody cases in family court.

Attorney Mark Fiddler, renowned for his ICWA work, is passionate about these cases and can assist with the following concerns.

ICWA Voluntary Adoptions

ICWA provides flexibility to protect the best interests of Indian children. It gives birth parents the right to place their children with families of their choosing. Attorney Mark Fiddler developed effective procedures to comply with the ICWA and work in conjunction with birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoption agencies to promote voluntary American Indian adoptions. Tribes may be consulted about these adoptions, but it is a myth that tribes have veto power over the decisions of fit birth parents.

ICWA Nationwide Attorney Consulting

Attorney Mark Fiddler consults with attorneys from other states who require assistance handling difficult ICWA cases. He serves as co-counsel to provide crucial assistance, briefs, case law, strategic advice, and instant “on tap” know-how to attorneys from all over the United States. In special cases, he appears as co-counsel with local attorneys in other states.

Mark was co-counsel in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (U.S. Supreme Court 2013), a landmark case in which the Supreme Court held that the Indian Child Welfare Act could not be applied to block an adoption lawfully filed under state law. This was a momentous adoption case with significant ramification for ICWA proceedings across the nation. Check out Mark’s interview about this case on NPR’s Radiolab.

If you’re going into custody proceedings in juvenile court or third-party custody cases in family court regarding an American Indian child, get the best legal representation you can from someone who is renowned for this area of law.


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