20-5-501. Purpose -- legislative intent -- parental rights -- definitions. (1) The legislature recognizes that the rights of parents to the custody and control of a child are based upon liberties secured by the United States and Montana constitutions and that a parent's rights to that custody and control of a child are therefore normally supreme to the interests of other persons. The legislature also recognizes a growing phenomenon in which absent or otherwise unavailable parents have temporarily surrendered the custody and care of their children to a grandparent or other relative for lengthy periods of time. Regardless of the purpose of the absence, a child willfully surrendered to a relative for an extended time period still has the same needs as a child in the care of its parents. In this situation, a caretaker relative assumes responsibilities for the child but has no legal right of control over the child, a situation that interferes in the caretaker relative's ability to perform routine functions of child rearing, including tending to the educational and educationally related medical needs of the child. It is therefore the purpose of the legislature in these instances to protect the rights of a child granted by Article II, section 15, of the Montana constitution by granting a caretaker relative limited authority for a child left in the relative's care.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature that a caretaker relative given the responsibility of caring for a child with little or no warning and without any other provision having been made for the child's care, such as the appointment of a guardian or the provision of a power of attorney, be granted authority to enroll the child in school, discuss with the school district the child's educational progress, and consent to an educational service and to medical care for the child related to an educational service without superseding any parental rights regarding the child.
(3) This part is not intended to affect the rights and responsibilities of a parent, legal guardian, or other custodian regarding the child, does not grant legal custody of the child to the caretaker relative, and does not grant authority to the caretaker relative to consent to the marriage or adoption of the child or to receive notice of a medical procedure, including abortion, not consented to by the relative, if notice is required by law, for the child except as expressly provided in this section.
(4) For the purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Caretaker relative" or "relative" means an individual related by blood, marriage, or adoption by another individual to the child whose care is undertaken by the relative, but who is not a parent, foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of the child.
(b) "Caretaker relative educational authorization affidavit" or "affidavit" means an affidavit completed in compliance with 20-5-503.
(c) "Health care provider" means a person who provides medical care.
(d) "Medical care" means care by a health care provider, for which parental consent is normally required, for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a mental, physical, or dental injury or disease.
(e) "Parent" means a biological parent, adoptive parent, or other legal guardian of the child whose parental rights have not been terminated.
History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 442, L. 2007.