Law Release: Native American children falling through the cracks
"The courts of the United States are afforded great latitude when it comes to righting wrongs; this is especially true when a father or mother is not living up to their support obligations. The court is allowed to garnish wages and seek other remedies when a parent fails to live up to his or her responsibilities.

However, there is one group of children in this country that has fallen through cracks in the judicial system -- not because the authorities don't want to help them, but because they can't: Native Americans.

While a state court may order a parent to pay support to his or her ex-spouse for the care of the children, if the parent is a Native American and receives income from the tribe, the U.S. court system is powerless to garnish that money, as most tribes function as sovereign nations, beyond the reach of U.S. law.

An astounding example of the frustrations involved in seeking support from a tribal-employed Native American is the case of Christina Brown. She is a soon-to-be divorced California woman. She and the kids are living with her mother and receiving welfare and food stamps. Her husband, however, is receiving monthly checks of nearly $20,000 from the Kumeyaay Indian Tribe -- this is the reported amount when the couple was together -- but failing to pay his ordered support obligations. Because the husband's income comes from the tribe, U.S. state and federal courts are powerless to garnish his wages to enforce the obligation."

Get the Story:
Press Release: The Difficulty in Enforcing Child Support Against Native Americans (Attorney John S. Yohanan 10/21)

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