Dinwiddie Dep’t of Social Services v. Nunnally, October 31, 2014 (Virginia)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Social Services (DSS) filed petitions for foster care plans with the goal of adoption and to terminate parental rights of father and Indian mother. Indian tribe filed a motion to intervene and filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction to tribal court under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Dinwiddie County, denied the petitions to terminate parental rights. The DDSS and the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the children appealed. The Circuit Court, Dinwiddie County, found that good cause existed not to transfer the proceeding to tribal court and terminated mother’s and father’s parental rights, and parents appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court on the motion to transfer, vacated the order terminating the parental rights of the mother and father, and remanded, and appeal was taken.

Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court held that case would be remanded to determine whether to transfer termination action involving Indian child to tribal court in light of Thompson, which rejected “best interests of child test” in favor of the more limited test involving an immediate serious emotional or physical harm.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.