Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Blog

Due Process—Tribe’s Right to Notice of Parental Termination

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Sep 16, 2022 | 0 Comments

Tohono O' odham Nation v. Fridlund-Horne, No. 1 CA-SA 22-0076 (App. Div. I) (J. Williams)

Mother is member of the Tohono O'odham Nation [Nation] . She attempted to terminate parental rights to  her newborn in Coconino County Superior Court so it could be adopted by non-Tribal members. The father failed to appear. She served him. He then petitioned the Tribal Court to name him the father. Ultimately the father withdrew this petition, but having put the Nation on notice, it sought to intervene in superior court and  have the termination order vacated. The trial court denied these requests. The Nation then brought this special action. The Arizona Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and granted the Tribe the relief requested.

25 U.S.C. § 1911(C) provides that an Indian child's tribe must have notice of any involuntary termination of parental rights but is silent as to voluntary terminations. On the other hand, A.R.S. § 8-535(A) provides that after a petition for termination of the parent-child relationship has been filed, ‘notice of the initial hearing and a copy of the petition shall be given to . . .the tribe of any Indian child as defined by [ICWA].' The statute does not limit the notice requirement to involuntary proceedings.”  If the legislature wanted to limit the notice requirement to involuntary petitions it could have said so. Held: Indian Tribes have a right to notice of both voluntary and involuntary parental right terminations involving an Indian child.

About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".


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