American Indian father and non-Indian mother living on an Indian reservation seek a divorce.
Wife files first in the non-Indian state court of South Dakota. The next day, the Husband files in the American Indian tribal court.
Which court has jurisdiction, the Indian tribal court or the South Dakota state court?
To make things interesting, the American Indian tribal court may well have jurisdiction over some or all aspects of custody of the children, who are part American Indian.
Well, the South Dakota Supreme Court just ruled that the non-Indian state court can hear the divorce case.
Interestingly, the Court also ruled that the trial court must make written findings of fact and law before transferring certain child custody matters to the Indian tribal court.
And, by the way, the Court’s ruling may have gone differently if the Husband had filed first in the Indian tribal court.