Washington Law Review


Since 1978, custody proceedings involving Indian children have been subject to the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The substantive provisions of the Act set forth placement preferences for state courts to follow when determining adoptive, preadoptive, and foster care placement of Indian children. While the Act directs that the preferences are to be followed in the absence of good cause to the contrary, it does not include a corresponding definition of what constitutes good cause. The result under this vague standard has been a lack of uniformity in state court treatment of the "good cause" determination. This Comment surveys the articulated policy and structure of ICWA, examines the disparities in state court applications of the "good cause" standard, and then proposes that the guidelines issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs be uniformly instituted by Congress as binding regulations limiting state court discretion and guiding the "good cause" determination.

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