F. Rights of the Parents, Indian Custodian and Tribe

The parents or an Indian custodian of an Indian child and the child’s tribe have specific rights under ICWA.

1. Appointment of Counsel

Appointment of counsel for indigent parents or Indian custodians is mandatory under ICWA, whether the action is for removal and placement in foster care or for termination of parental rights. 25 U.S.C. § 1912(b). Appointment of counsel for a child is discretionary, but state law requires appointment of an attorney ad litem for a child if DFPS seeks conservatorship or termination. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.012.

2. Right to Review Records

In a proceeding for foster care or termination of parental rights, each party (including the child’s tribe and custodian) has the right to review all reports and records filed with the court. 25 U.S.C. § 1912(c).

3. Right to Intervene

The tribe and the Indian custodian have an absolute right to intervene in the state court action at any time in the proceedings. 25 U.S.C. § 1911(c). Either may intervene without the other. Intervention may be accomplished informally, by oral statement or formally.

4. Full Faith and Credit

ICWA requires that all courts give full faith and credit to the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of any federally recognized Indian tribe regarding Indian child custody proceedings. 25 U.S.C. § 1911(d).