Child Support
Is the money that Native Americans get from the casino income for support purposes?

Is the money that Native Americans get from the casino income for support purposes?

March 15, 2017

Complex questions about spousal and child support related to Native American gaming revenue or lotteries should be answered by a qualified California divorce lawyer.

If a person is a member of a Native American group that has a fund or asset derived from Native American gaming revenue (per capita), the court cannot order the fund or asset to pay spousal or child support. This is because state courts lack jurisdiction to distribute Native American property. The Native Indian tribe has their own sovereignty. This fact makes collection of support difficult if the member does not consent to enforcement. Stated another way, the Indian Tribe does not have to honor a wage assignment if the member does not consent. There still are enforcement remedies such as a writ of execution, bank account levy, or contempt.

If one of the parties to the marriage is a member of a Native American group, the fact that their income is derived from tribal gaming revenues or other property over which the state court does not have jurisdiction does not limit a California court from ordering them to pay spousal support.

A California court may order the payment of spousal support in spite of tribal custom and tradition that funds distributed by the tribe to its members should not be used to pay spousal support to nonmembers (see Marriage of Jacobsen (2004) 121 CA4th 1187). A California court is not required to give full force and effect to tribal laws if these laws are inconsistent with California law. In Jacobsen, the court found that the money was separate property but the court found that a tribal distribution lost its identity as “immune Indian property” once the member had deposited the money in a financial institution.

At the Edgar & Dow, we have many experienced family law attorneys who have years of experience in this area. We many local Indian tribes and local casinos we have handled both sides of this issues, either for a member of the Indian tribe or an employee of the casinos, and the person receiving support. Please contact our office for a free initial consultation 888-251-9618


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