FAMILY CODE SECTION 170-185
170. (a) As used in this code, unless the context otherwise
requires, the terms “Indian,” “Indian child,” “Indian child’s tribe,”
“Indian custodian,” “Indian organization,” “Indian tribe,”
“reservation,” and “tribal court” shall be defined as provided in
Section 1903 of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et
(b) When used in connection with an Indian child custody
proceeding, the terms “extended family member” and “parent” shall be
defined as provided in Section 1903 of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
(c) “Indian child custody proceeding” means a “child custody
proceeding” within the meaning of Section 1903 of the Indian Child
Welfare Act, including a voluntary or involuntary proceeding that may
result in an Indian child’s temporary or long-term foster care or
guardianship placement if the parent or Indian custodian cannot have
the child returned upon demand, termination of parental rights, or
adoptive placement. An “Indian child custody proceeding” does not
include a proceeding under this code commenced by the parent of an
Indian child to determine the custodial rights of the child’s
parents, unless the proceeding involves a petition to declare an
Indian child free from the custody or control of a parent or involves
a grant of custody to a person or persons other than a parent, over
the objection of a parent.
(d) If an Indian child is a member of more than one tribe or is
eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the court shall make
a determination, in writing together with the reasons for it, as to
which tribe is the Indian child’s tribe for purposes of the Indian
child custody proceeding. The court shall make that determination as
(1) If the Indian child is or becomes a member of only one tribe,
that tribe shall be designated as the Indian child’s tribe, even
though the child is eligible for membership in another tribe.
(2) If an Indian child is or becomes a member of more than one
tribe, or is not a member of any tribe but is eligible for membership
in more than one tribe, the tribe with which the child has the more
significant contacts shall be designated as the Indian child’s tribe.
In determining which tribe the child has the more significant
contacts with, the court shall consider, among other things, the
(A) The length of residence on or near the reservation of each
tribe and frequency of contact with each tribe.
(B) The child’s participation in activities of each tribe.
(C) The child’s fluency in the language of each tribe.
(D) Whether there has been a previous adjudication with respect to
the child by a court of one of the tribes.
(E) Residence on or near one of the tribes’ reservations by the
child’s parents, Indian custodian or extended family members.
(F) Tribal membership of custodial parent or Indian custodian.
(G) Interest asserted by each tribe in response to the notice
specified in Section 180.
(H) The child’s self identification.
(3) If an Indian child becomes a member of a tribe other than the
one designated by the court as the Indian child’s tribe under
paragraph (2), actions taken based on the court’s determination prior
to the child’s becoming a tribal member shall continue to be valid.
175. (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) There is no resource that is more vital to the continued
existence and integrity of recognized Indian tribes than their
children, and the State of California has an interest in protecting
Indian children who are members of, or are eligible for membership
in, an Indian tribe. The state is committed to protecting the
essential tribal relations and best interest of an Indian child by
promoting practices, in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act
(25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.) and other applicable law, designed to
prevent the child’s involuntary out-of-home placement and, whenever
the placement is necessary or ordered, by placing the child, whenever
possible, in a placement that reflects the unique values of the
child’s tribal culture and is best able to assist the child in
establishing, developing, and maintaining a political, cultural, and
social relationship with the child’s tribe and tribal community.
(2) It is in the interest of an Indian child that the child’s
membership in the child’s Indian tribe and connection to the tribal
community be encouraged and protected, regardless of any of the
(A) Whether the child is in the physical custody of an Indian
parent or Indian custodian at the commencement of a child custody
(B) Whether the parental rights of the child’s parents have been
(C) Where the child has resided or been domiciled.
(b) In all Indian child custody proceedings the court shall
consider all of the findings contained in subdivision (a), strive to
promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families,
comply with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, and seek to protect
the best interest of the child. Whenever an Indian child is removed
from a foster care home or institution, guardianship, or adoptive
placement for the purpose of further foster care, guardianship, or
adoptive placement, placement of the child shall be in accordance
with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
(c) A determination by an Indian tribe that an unmarried person,
who is under the age of 18 years, is either (1) a member of an Indian
tribe or (2) eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and a
biological child of a member of an Indian tribe shall constitute a
significant political affiliation with the tribe and shall require
the application of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to the
(d) In any case in which this code or other applicable state or
federal law provides a higher standard of protection to the rights of
the parent or Indian custodian of an Indian child, or the Indian
child’s tribe, than the rights provided under the Indian Child
Welfare Act, the court shall apply the higher standard.
(e) Any Indian child, the Indian child’s tribe, or the parent or
Indian custodian from whose custody the child has been removed, may
petition the court to invalidate an action in an Indian child custody
proceeding for foster care, guardianship placement, or termination
of parental rights if the action violated Sections 1911, 1912, and
1913 of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).
Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit, restrict, or
otherwise limit any rights under Section 1914 of the Indian Child
Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).
177. (a) In an Indian child custody proceeding, the court shall
apply Sections 224.2 to 224.6, inclusive, and Sections 305.5, 361.31,
and 361.7 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and the following
rules from the California Rules of Court, as they read on January 1,
(1) Paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Rule 5.530.
(2) Subdivision (i) of Rule 5.534.
(b) In the provisions cited in subdivision (a), references to
social workers, probation officers, county welfare department, or
probation department shall be construed as meaning the party seeking
a foster care placement, guardianship, or adoption under this code.
(c) This section shall only apply to proceedings involving an
180. (a) In an Indian child custody proceeding notice shall comply
with subdivision (b) of this section.
(b) Any notice sent under this section shall be sent to the minor’
s parent or legal guardian, Indian custodian, if any, and the Indian
child’s tribe and shall comply with all of the following
(1) Notice shall be sent by registered or certified mail with
return receipt requested. Additional notice by first-class mail is
recommended, but not required.
(2) Notice to the tribe shall be to the tribal chairperson, unless
the tribe has designated another agent for service.
(3) Notice shall be sent to all tribes of which the child may be a
member or eligible for membership until the court makes a
determination as to which tribe is the Indian child’s tribe in
accordance with subdivision (d) of Section 170, after which notice
need only be sent to the tribe determined to be the Indian child’s
(4) Notice, to the extent required by federal law, shall be sent
to the Secretary of the Interior’s designated agent, the Sacramento
Area Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs. If the identity or location
of the Indian child’s tribe is known, a copy of the notice shall also
be sent directly to the Secretary of the Interior unless the
Secretary of the Interior has waived that notice in writing and the
person responsible for giving notice under this section has filed
proof of the waiver with the court.
(5) In addition to the information specified in other sections of
this article, notice shall include all of the following information:
(A) The name, birthdate, and birthplace of the Indian child, if
(B) The name of any Indian tribe in which the child is a member or
may be eligible for membership, if known.
(C) All names known of the Indian child’s biological parents,
grandparents, and great-grandparents, or Indian custodians, including
maiden, married, and former names or aliases, as well as their
current and former addresses, birthdates, places of birth and death,
tribal enrollment numbers, and any other identifying information, if
(D) A copy of the petition by which the proceeding was initiated.
(E) A copy of the child’s birth certificate, if available.
(F) The location, mailing address, and telephone number of the
court and all parties notified pursuant to this section.
(G) A statement of the following:
(i) The absolute right of the child’s parents, Indian custodians,
and tribe to intervene in the proceeding.
(ii) The right of the child’s parents, Indian custodians, and
tribe to petition the court to transfer the proceeding to the tribal
court of the Indian child’s tribe, absent objection by either parent
and subject to declination by the tribal court.
(iii) The right of the child’s parents, Indian custodians, and
tribe to, upon request, be granted up to an additional 20 days from
the receipt of the notice to prepare for the proceeding.
(iv) The potential legal consequences of the proceedings on the
future custodial rights of the child’s parents or Indian custodians.
(v) That if the parents or Indian custodians are unable to afford
counsel, counsel will be appointed to represent the parents or
Indian custodians pursuant to Section 1912 of the Indian Child
Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).
(vi) That the information contained in the notice, petition,
pleading, and other court documents is confidential, so any person or
entity notified shall maintain the confidentiality of the
information contained in the notice concerning the particular
proceeding and not reveal it to anyone who does not need the
information in order to exercise the tribe’s rights under the Indian
Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).
(c) Notice shall be sent whenever it is known or there is reason
to know that an Indian child is involved, and for every hearing
thereafter, including, but not limited to, the hearing at which a
final adoption order is to be granted. After a tribe acknowledges
that the child is a member or eligible for membership in that tribe,
or after the Indian child’s tribe intervenes in a proceeding, the
information set out in subparagraphs (C), (D), (E), and (G) of
paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) need not be included with the
(d) Proof of the notice, including copies of notices sent and all
return receipts and responses received, shall be filed with the court
in advance of the hearing except as permitted under subdivision (e).
(e) No proceeding shall be held until at least 10 days after
receipt of notice by the parent, Indian custodian, the tribe, or the
Bureau of Indian Affairs. The parent, Indian custodian, or the tribe
shall, upon request, be granted up to 20 additional days to prepare
for the proceeding. Nothing herein shall be construed as limiting the
rights of the parent, Indian custodian, or tribe to 10 days’ notice
if a lengthier notice period is required under this code.
(f) With respect to giving notice to Indian tribes, a party shall
be subject to court sanctions if that person knowingly and willfully
falsifies or conceals a material fact concerning whether the child is
an Indian child, or counsels a party to do so.
(g) The inclusion of contact information of any adult or child
that would otherwise be required to be included in the notification
pursuant to this section, shall not be required if that person is at
risk of harm as a result of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual
abuse, or stalking.
185. (a) In a custody proceeding involving a child who would
otherwise be an Indian child based on the definition contained in
paragraph (4) of Section 1903 of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act
(25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.), but is not an Indian child based on
status of the child’s tribe, as defined in paragraph (8) of Section
1903 of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et
seq.), the court may permit the tribe from which the child is
descended to participate in the proceeding upon request of the tribe.
(b) If the court permits a tribe to participate in a proceeding,
the tribe may do all of the following, upon consent of the court:
(1) Be present at the hearing.
(2) Address the court.
(3) Request and receive notice of hearings.
(4) Request to examine court documents relating to the proceeding.
(5) Present information to the court that is relevant to the
(6) Submit written reports and recommendations to the court.
(7) Perform other duties and responsibilities as requested or
approved by the court.
(c) If more than one tribe requests to participate in a proceeding
under subdivision (a), the court may limit participation to the
tribe with which the child has the most significant contacts, as
determined in accordance with paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of
(d) This section is intended to assist the court in making
decisions that are in the best interest of the child by permitting a
tribe in the circumstances set out in subdivision (a) to inform the
court and parties to the proceeding about placement options for the
child within the child’s extended family or the tribal community,
services and programs available to the child and the child’s parents
as Indians, and other unique interests the child or the child’s
parents may have as Indians. This section shall not be construed to
make the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.), or
any state law implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act, applicable
to the proceedings, or to limit the court’s discretion to permit
other interested persons to participate in these or any other
(e) This section shall only apply to proceedings involving an