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New issue raised in Native American child custody dispute

This blog has previously reported on the Oklahoma case involving the custody dispute between the child's adoptive parents and Cherokee birth father. The case implicated the rights of many local residents in Minneapolis and St. Paul with a Native American heritage, as well as their spouses. As the case showed, special custody rules may apply to Native American children.

The adoptive parents in this particular case secured child custody, but have now raised a separate issue. They believe they are entitled to the expenses, including attorney fees, that they had to spend in order to fight the father's challenge. Counsel for the Cherokee Nation, which provided the resources for the challenge, refused to comment on the matter, based on a gag order that was issued in the case.

One of the most common misunderstandings among those who do not practice law is the recovery of attorney fees. Generally speaking, each side is responsible for paying their own attorney. Only a few exceptions exist to this general rule.

Parents who going through a divorce and seeking sole custody need to understand this issue. Strategic decisions are often made based upon the recoverability of attorney fees. Though rarely available, local St. Paul attorneys specializing in family law can explain when and where such recovery is possible. Further, they can combat any challenge and ex-spouse is asserting to fees.

While this may seem like a collateral issue, it shows how intricate divorce and custody proceedings can be. There are countless issues which can arise in the context of a family law matter that only an attorney may be able to adequately address.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Adoptive parents seek expenses in custody fight," Sept. 29, 2103

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