Family Law Forum | Vol. 22 No. 2 | Spring 2014

Letter From the Editor

There have been many new and changing issues affecting family law recently, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Affordable Care Act. This edition of the Family Law Forum focuses on the current trends happening in family law, and highlights issues you may confront in your practice.    

This is the final edition of the Family Law Forum for the season. Our next publication is planned for the fall of 2014. In it we will address some of the myriad complex financial issues facing family law practitioners. Our list of possible topics includes:        

-          Bankruptcy

-          Advanced issues of child support and spousal maintenance

-          Business valuation and division

-          Stock options

-          Real property as it relates to divorce

If you are interested in writing on this topic, please feel free to contact me at or Larry McGee at  

Comments, questions, suggestions are always welcomed and encouraged. We also welcome your suggestions for future topics! We strive to make the Family Law Forum a valuable benefit to you in your practice of family law.

Have a happy spring,

            Krista Schneider and Larry McGee,
            Publication Co-Chairs


Adoptive Couple V. Baby Girl, State ICWA Laws, and Constitutional Avoidance
By: Mark D. Fiddler

One of the thorniest questions facing attorneys who practice adoption law is determining whether and how the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to voluntary adoption proceedings, especially cases where the birth mother, whether Indian or not, wishes to consent to adoption and the father does not otherwise have standing or any rights under state law. A raft of questions arise. Does ICWA apply? Does the unwed father have standing? Does the tribe have the right to notice? Does the father have the right to demand a termination trial and remedial efforts before an adoption may proceed? Does a fit birth mother have the right to place her child with non-Indians? Most of these issues were addressed in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 133 S. Ct. 2552 (2013), a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 25, 2013, which dramatically reshapes adoption practice, and casts new doubt on the constitutionality of states’ laws which attempt to expand ICWA beyond its original reach. Read more...