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Name: In re Daniel M.
Case #: D041470
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/16/2003
Subsequent History: None

On appeal from a parental rights termination order, the alleged father sought to challenge notice given under the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901. The Court of Appeal found that he did not have standing and dismissed the appeal. An unwed father only has standing under 25 U.S.C. 1903(9) where his paternity is acknowledged or established. As “acknowledged” is not defined in ICWA the reviewing court looks to state law for guidance. In California, the father’s acknowledgment is by declaration filed with a birth certificate (Fam. Code, sec. 7571, subd. (a)), or by blood tests. (Fam. Code, sec. 7551.) Here, the alleged father sought to establish his paternity after the original disposition and removal of the child, but he failed to appear for blood testing. Blood tests were ordered after the section 366.26 hearing was set, but the tests were not taken before the date of the hearing, and the court terminated parental rights. There is no authority that the mere act of asking for blood tests constituted enough of an acknowledgment of paternity to give him standing to make an ICWA claim on appeal.