from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD528014 The
Honorable Karen L. O'Connor, Judge
of General Counsel for the Gila River Indian Community,
Sacaton By Linus Everling, Thomas L. Murphy, Mandy Cisneros
Co-Counsel for Appellant Gila River Indian Community
Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom & Schoenburg,
L.L.P., Tempe By April E. Olson Co-Counsel for Appellant Gila
River Indian Community
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Tucson By Dawn R.
Williams Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety
Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the
Goldwater Institute, Phoenix By James Manley, Aditya Dynar
Counsel for Appellees S.H. and J.H.
of the Legal Advocate, Phoenix By Tiffany Mastin Guardian ad
Litem for Appellee A.D.
of the General Counsel for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa
Indian Community, Scottsdale By Cheryl J. Scott Counsel for
Amici Curiae Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community,
Cherokee Nation, and the Native American Bar Association of
Lawrence F. Winthrop delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Randall M.
Following termination of the parental rights of the
biological parents of A.D., an Indian child and eligible
member of the Gila River Indian Community ("the
Community"),  the Community moved for an order
transferring jurisdiction of the matter to its Children's
Court. The Maricopa County Juvenile Court denied the motion,
and the Community appealed. We hold that 25 U.S.C. §
1911(b) of the Indian Child Welfare Act ("ICWA"),
which the Community argues requires transfer, does not allow
jurisdiction to be transferred after parental rights have
been terminated. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of the
motion to transfer jurisdiction.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Underlying Proceedings
At the time of A.D.'s birth in 2014, both she and her
biological mother ("M.D.") tested positive for
amphetamines and opiates.Approximately one week later, the
Arizona Department of Child Safety ("DCS") removed
her from the hospital and placed her with S.H. and J.H.
("the foster parents"), with whom she has since
On August 27, 2014, DCS filed a dependency petition on behalf
of A.D. The Community was provided notice of the dependency
proceedings, and on October 3, 2014, formally moved to
intervene pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1911(c). The juvenile
court granted the motion to intervene, and the Community
continued to be involved throughout the case.
On February 20, 2015, the juvenile court found A.D.
dependent. Pursuant to DCS's request, the court
ordered a case plan of severance and adoption, and on March
4, 2015, DCS moved for termination of the parent-child
relationship. The Community received notice of the motion for
termination. See 25 U.S.C. § 1912.
On March 18, 2015, the juvenile court terminated the parental
rights of A.D.'s biological parents. At that time, the
court found the foster parents were an adoptive placement
meeting all of A.D.'s needs. The court also found the
foster parents had demonstrated a willingness to honor
A.D.'s cultural heritage, including by making
arrangements to ensure her continued exposure to the
Community's culture. The Community had not provided an
alternative ICWA-compliant placement and agreed that good
cause existed to deviate from the ICWA placement
preferences. See 25 U.S.C. § 1915(a)-(b).
DCS, as the legal guardian of A.D., was granted authority by
the juvenile court to consent to her adoption. No objection
or notice of appeal was filed challenging termination of the
biological parents' parental rights.
On June 2, 2015, the foster parents moved to intervene under
Rule 24, Ariz. R. Civ. P., and expressed a desire to adopt
A.D. At a June 5 Report and Review hearing, the Community
requested additional time to respond in writing to the motion
to intervene, but failed to file a response, and the juvenile
court granted the foster parents' motion to intervene.
Soon thereafter, the foster parents filed a petition to adopt
A.D., and although adoption hearings were scheduled, the
juvenile court granted the Community's motion to stay the
The Motion to Transfer Jurisdiction
On August 18, 2015, the Community moved to transfer
jurisdiction of the remaining proceedings to the
Community's Children's Court pursuant to 25 U.S.C.
§ 1911(b). In its motion, the Community noted that
the State of Arizona, through DCS, supported the motion, but
the foster parents and A.D.'s guardian ad litem
("GAL") objected to the motion. The GAL filed
a written objection to the motion to transfer on September
11, 2015, and, pursuant to the juvenile court's minute
entry order issued after the September 29 Report and Review
hearing, the foster parents filed a response to the motion to
transfer on October 13, 2015.
On December 9, 2015, and January 5, 2016, the juvenile court
heard testimony on whether good cause existed to deny the
Community's motion to transfer
jurisdiction.See generally 25 U.S.C. §
1911(b). Both sides offered evidence regarding several
factors, including whether the Community's Children's
Court was a convenient forum, the degree to which A.D. had
bonded with her foster family, and the possible ...