Judge Tip

California statutes and rules of court provide subtly different thresholds for further inquiry:

  • It is known or there is reason to know that the child is an Indian child, or

  • It is known or there is reason to know that the child may be an Indian child.

Cal Rules of Ct 5.481(a)(4) (on inquiry) uses the phrase is or may be (“. . . when it is known or there is reason to know that the child is or may be an Indian child”). Welf & I C §§224.2 and 224.3, Fam C §177(a), and Cal Rules of Ct 5.481(b)(1) (on notice) use the word is (“. . . when it is known or there is reason to know that the child is an Indian child”). The Probate Code refers to both of these provisions, and Probate Code proceedings are governed by a separate rule of court that uses is (Cal Rules of Ct 7.1015(d)(5)).

A Fourth District opinion (In re Damian C. (2009) 178 CA4th 192) affirms that the language in Welf & I C §224.3(b)(1)—“information suggesting the child is a member or eligible for membership . . .” [emphasis added]—represents the true threshold:
Welf & I C §224.3(b)(1)