41-3-444. Abuse and neglect proceedings -- appointment of guardian -- financial subsidies. (1) The court may, upon the petition of the department or guardian ad litem, enter an order appointing a guardian for a child who has been placed in the temporary or permanent custody of the department pursuant to 41-3-438, 41-3-445, or 41-3-607. The guardianship may be subsidized by the department under subsection (9) if the guardianship meets the department's criteria, or the guardianship may be nonsubsidized.
(2) The court may appoint a guardian for a child pursuant to this section if the following facts are found by the court:
(a) the department has given its written consent to the appointment of the guardian, whether the guardianship is to be subsidized or not;
(b) if the guardianship is to be subsidized, the department has given its written consent after the department has considered initiating or continuing financial subsidies pursuant to subsection (9);
(c) the child has been adjudicated a youth in need of care;
(d) the department has made reasonable efforts to reunite the parent and child, further efforts to reunite the parent and child by the department would likely be unproductive, and reunification of the parent and child would be contrary to the best interests of the child;
(e) the child has lived with the potential guardian in a family setting and the potential guardian is committed to providing a long-term relationship with the child;
(f) it is in the best interests of the child to remain or be placed with the potential guardian;
(g) either termination of parental rights to the child is not in the child's best interests or parental rights to the child have been terminated, but adoption is not in the child's best interests; and
(h) if the child concerning whom the petition for guardianship has been filed is an Indian child, as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901, et seq., the child's tribe has received notification from the state of the initiation of the proceedings.
(3) In the case of an abandoned child, the court may give priority to a member of the abandoned child's extended family, including adult siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, if placement with the extended family member is in the best interests of the child. If more than one extended family member has requested to be appointed as guardian, the court may determine which extended family member to appoint in the same manner provided for in 41-3-438(4).
(4) The entry of a decree of guardianship pursuant to this section terminates the custody of the department and the involvement of the department with the child and the child's parents except for the department's provision of a financial subsidy, if any, pursuant to subsection (9).
(5) A guardian appointed under this section may exercise the powers and has the duties provided in 72-5-231.
(6) The court may revoke a guardianship ordered pursuant to this section if the court finds, after hearing on a petition for removal of the child's guardian, that continuation of the guardianship is not in the best interests of the child. Notice of hearing on the petition must be provided by the moving party to the child's lawful guardian, the department, any court-appointed guardian ad litem, the child's parent if the rights of the parent have not been terminated, and other persons directly interested in the welfare of the child.
(7) A guardian may petition the court for permission to resign the guardianship. A petition may include a request for appointment of a successor guardian.
(8) After notice and hearing on a petition for removal or permission to resign, the court may appoint a successor guardian or may terminate the guardianship and restore temporary legal custody to the department pursuant to 41-3-438.
(9) The department may provide a financial subsidy to a guardian appointed pursuant to this section if the guardianship meets the department's criteria and if the department determines that a subsidy is in the best interests of the child. The amount of the subsidy must be determined by the department.
(10) This section does not apply to guardians appointed pursuant to Title 72, chapter 5.
History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 428, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 194, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 281, L. 2001; Sec. 41-3-421, MCA 1999; redes. 41-3-444 by Sec. 17(2), Ch. 281, L. 2001.