American Indians shielded from child support orders in CA?

Many American Indian tribes operate under a form of independent government. This sovereignty seems to be creating difficulties for some mothers who are seeking child support. A recent news report highlights some of the issues California mothers are facing when attempting to obtain court-ordered child support from American Indian fathers.

The California Department of Child Support Services does not keep a record of businesses that do not enforce child support orders. This is true for both standard businesses and those operating under a tribal government. According to the chief judge of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, most businesses governed by tribal leadership do not have formal child support enforcement programs in place. In short, many American Indian mothers believe that tribal governments and tribal businesses are shielding fathers from the enforcement of court-ordered child support.

One California mother told reporters she's not having much luck getting a support payment from her ex-husband. Her ex-husband is a member of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians. He earns around $13,250 a month as a member of his tribe, which operates a large casino near San Diego.

Members of the tribe receive a portion of the profits from the casino. That said, the father's court ordered child support payment is $4,659 a month, but she has yet to receive a consistent payment. Instead, a series of legal actions have been required in order to obtain her child support arrears.

Given the disparity between tribal and local governments, parents who are seeking child support under these types of circumstances may benefit from the enlistment of legal counsel. As it stands, a lack of adherence to court ordered payments as a result of the lack of enforcement by tribal governments, may require the application of substantial legal pressure to reach a resolution. Legal counsel knowledgeable in family law may help these parents to finally get what they're owed.

Source: SFGate, "Child support struggle by moms among Calif. tribes," Kelley Weiss, Aug. 8, 2011

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