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Name: In re Abbigail A.
Case #: C074264
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/16/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 9/10/2014: S220187
Summary

Juvenile court erred when it applied ICWA provisions to minors eligible for enrollment but not yet enrolled in the tribe. During dependency proceedings, the father of the two minors informed the juvenile court that his grandmother was Native American. Following ICWA notice, the Cherokee Nation confirmed that the minors were descendants of tribal members and were eligible for enrollment. However, the Cherokee Nation declined to intervene until father or the minors completed application forms. DHHS argued that the court did not need to apply ICWA protections because the minors were not enrolled members. The juvenile court held that it was required to treat the minors as Indian children, and directed the Department to make efforts to enroll them. DHHS appealed, and the appellate court reversed the judgment. Rules 5.482(c) and 5.484(c)(2) are inconsistent with state law and could authorize the application of ICWA in the present proceedings to minors who are not Indian children within the meaning of ICWA. The judgment was reversed with directions to enter a judgment that does not direct the application of ICWA provisions to the minors until such time as they qualify as Indian children under the ICWA and California definitions.