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Name: In re Joseph P.
Case #: F049193
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/30/2006

Father appealed from an order terminating his parental rights. Early in the proceedings, the court determined that based on information it received from the BIA, ICWA did not apply. Nearly a year later, at the termination hearing, father claimed Mohican heritage for the first time. The court proceeded with the termination hearing. On appeal, father argued that the court should have suspended the proceedings and sent ICWA notice to the Mohican tribe. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. By the time father claimed Mohican heritage, the ICWA’s notice requirements had already been met and the BIA had determined that ICWA was inapplicable. Father failed to support his last-minute claim with evidence, and no tribe had come forward to claim the children. The juvenile court was not required to provide new ICWA notice to the Mohican tribe. Once an ICWA determination is made, it is not set in stone. The court can consider new information when it calls into question a prior ruling. However, here naming a tribe alone when a parent has previously stated he did not know his tribal heritage does not amount to changed circumstances.