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Baby Veronica Goes Home

In a family law case that captured headlines for years, Veronica Capobianco has finally gone home.

In 2008, Christina Maldonado informed her then-boyfriend Dusten Brown she was pregnant. Mr. Brown pressed for marriage indicating he would not support the child if Ms. Maldonado did not marry him. Ms. Maldonado ended the relationship and Mr. Brown provided no financial or other support to Ms. Maldonado. Mr. Brown agreed in writing to terminate parental rights.

Ms. Maldonado sought adoptive parents for Veronica and chose Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a couple who supported Ms. Maldonado throughout the pregnancy and birth. Upon learning Veronica would be raised by an adoptive couple, Mr. Brown challenged the adoption using the support of the Cherokee Nation, of which he, but not Ms. Maldonado, is a member.

Two years after Veronica went to live with the Capobiancos, a South Carolina trial court awarded Mr. Brown custody of Veronica. Mr. Brown took Veronica to Oklahoma without allowing her further visitation by the Capobianco family. In 2013, when Veronica was almost four, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case back to a South Carolina court after interpreting the case as follows:

  • The State Supreme Court of South Carolina erred in applying law
  • The Indian parent abandoned the child before birth
  • The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not apply in cases where the Indian parent never had custody of the Indian child

Following the Supreme Court decision, Veronica was formally adopted by the Capobianco family. Mr. Brown refused to return Veronica and was subsequently arrested. An emergency stay by the Oklahoma Supreme Court was lifted and Veronica was returned to her adoptive parents, who returned to South Carolina.

Because of the legal, tribal and other agencies involved, this case will be long discussed, and may not yet have seen its last hearing. If you have questions about adoption or custody issues, speak with an experienced family law attorney in Long Island. Se habla español.

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