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Indian Children and Their Guardians Ad Litem

95 Boston University Law Review Annex 59 (2013)

MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-19

6 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2013  

Matthew L. M. Fletcher

Michigan State University College of Law

Kathryn E Fort

Indigenous Law & Policy Center, Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: December 2, 2013

Abstract

One of the primary goals of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is to limit the influence or bias of state workers in decisions placing American Indian children out of their home and community. While this focus usually concerns state social workers, the officials who most often seek removal of a child, or the courts, the body that issues the orders and opinions, guardians ad litem (GALs) receive less attention. Despite this lack of attention, GALs exert a similar level of influence as state social workers. In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the role of the GAL was unusual but critical – the GAL, while officially appointed by the court, was handpicked by the adoptive parents. The role of the GAL remains understudied in the ICWA literature, though GALs continue to exert enormous influence in the courts. Unfortunately, many GALs throughout the nation subvert the national policy embodied by the ICWA by advocating against the implementation of the statute in case after case.

Keywords: Indian Child Welfare Act, guardians ad litem, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, Supreme Court, family law, adoption law

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Matthew L. M. and Fort, Kathryn E, Indian Children and Their Guardians Ad Litem (December 2, 2013). 95 Boston University Law Review Annex 59 (2013); MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2362402

Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

648 N. Shaw
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

Kathryn E Fort

Indigenous Law & Policy Center, Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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