2005 Montana Legislature
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SENATE BILL NO. 86
INTRODUCED BY SMITH
BY REQUEST OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
AN ACT DEFINING TERMS RELATED TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FEDERAL INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT; CLARIFYING THE ROLE OF A QUALIFIED EXPERT WITNESS IN CASES INVOLVING INDIAN CHILDREN IN PROCEEDINGS SUBJECT TO THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 41-3-102, 41-3-205, 41-3-432, 41-3-437, AND 41-3-609, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 41-3-102, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-102. Definitions. As used in this chapter, the following definitions apply:
(1) (a) "Abandon", "abandoned", and "abandonment" mean:
(i) leaving a child under circumstances that make reasonable the belief that the parent does not intend to resume care of the child in the future;
(ii) willfully surrendering physical custody for a period of 6 months and during that period not manifesting to the child and the person having physical custody of the child a firm intention to resume physical custody or to make permanent legal arrangements for the care of the child;
(iii) that the parent is unknown and has been unknown for a period of 90 days and that reasonable efforts to identify and locate the parent have failed; or
(iv) the voluntary surrender, as defined in 40-6-402, by a parent of a newborn who is no more than 30 days old to an emergency services provider, as defined in 40-6-402.
(b) The terms do not include the voluntary surrender of a child to the department solely because of parental inability to access publicly funded services.
(2) "A person responsible for a child's welfare" means:
(a) the child's parent, guardian, foster parent or an adult who resides in the same home in which the child resides;
(b) a person providing care in a day-care facility;
(c) an employee of a public or private residential institution, facility, home, or agency; or
(d) any other person responsible for the child's welfare in a residential setting.
(3) "Abused or neglected" means the state or condition of a child who has suffered child abuse or neglect.
(4) (a) "Adequate health care" means any medical care or nonmedical remedial health care recognized by an insurer licensed to provide disability insurance under Title 33, including the prevention of the withholding of medically indicated treatment or medically indicated psychological care permitted or authorized under state law.
(b) This chapter may not be construed to require or justify a finding of child abuse or neglect for the sole reason that a parent or legal guardian, because of religious beliefs, does not provide adequate health care for a child. However, this chapter may not be construed to limit the administrative or judicial authority of the state to ensure that medical care is provided to the child when there is imminent substantial risk of serious harm to the child.
(5) "Best interests of the child" means the physical, mental, and psychological conditions and needs of the child and any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to the child.
(6) "Child" or "youth" means any person under 18 years of age.
(7) (a) "Child abuse or neglect" means:
(i) actual physical or psychological harm to a child;
(ii) substantial risk of physical or psychological harm to a child; or
(b) (i) The term includes:
(A) actual physical or psychological harm to a child or substantial risk of physical or psychological harm to a child by the acts or omissions of a person responsible for the child's welfare; or
(B) exposing a child to the criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, as prohibited by 45-9-101, the criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs, as prohibited by 45-9-110, or the operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory, as prohibited by 45-9-132.
(ii) For the purposes of this subsection (7), "dangerous drugs" means the compounds and substances described as dangerous drugs in Schedules I through IV in Title 50, chapter 32, part 2.
(c) In proceedings under this chapter in which the federal Indian Child Welfare Act is applicable, this term has the same meaning as "serious emotional or physical damage to the child" as used in 25 U.S.C. 1912(f).
(c)(d) The term does not include self-defense, defense of others, or action taken to prevent the child from self-harm that does not constitute physical or psychological harm to a child.
(8) "Concurrent planning" means to work toward reunification of the child with the family while at the same time developing and implementing an alternative permanent plan.
(9) "Department" means the department of public health and human services provided for in 2-15-2201.
(10) "Family group decisionmaking meeting" means a meeting that involves family members in either developing treatment plans or making placement decisions, or both.
(11) "Indian child" means any unmarried person who is under 18 years of age and who is either:
(a) a member of an Indian tribe; or
(b) eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.
(12) "Indian child's tribe" means:
(a) the Indian tribe in which an Indian child is a member or eligible for membership; or
(b) in the case of an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in more than one Indian tribe, the Indian tribe with which the Indian child has the more significant contacts.
(13) "Indian custodian" means any Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody, and control have been transferred by the child's parent.
(14) "Indian tribe" means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians recognized by:
(a) the state of Montana; or
(b) the United States secretary of the interior as being eligible for the services provided to Indians or because of the group's status as Indians, including any Alaskan native village as defined in federal law.
(11)(15) "Limited emancipation" means a status conferred on a youth by a court in accordance with 41-1-501 under which the youth is entitled to exercise some but not all of the rights and responsibilities of a person who is 18 years of age or older.
(12)(16) "Parent" means a biological or adoptive parent or stepparent.
(13)(17) "Parent-child legal relationship" means the legal relationship that exists between a child and the child's birth or adoptive parents, as provided in Title 40, chapter 6, part 2, unless the relationship has been terminated by competent judicial decree as provided in 40-6-234, Title 42, or part 6 of this chapter.
(14)(18) "Permanent placement" means reunification of the child with the child's parent, adoption, placement with a legal guardian, placement with a fit and willing relative, or placement in another planned permanent living arrangement until the child reaches 18 years of age.
(15)(19) "Physical abuse" means an intentional act, an intentional omission, or gross negligence resulting in substantial skin bruising, internal bleeding, substantial injury to skin, subdural hematoma, burns, bone fractures, extreme pain, permanent or temporary disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ or function, or death.
(16)(20) "Physical neglect" means either failure to provide basic necessities, including but not limited to appropriate and adequate nutrition, protective shelter from the elements, and appropriate clothing related to weather conditions, or failure to provide cleanliness and general supervision, or both, or exposing or allowing the child to be exposed to an unreasonable physical or psychological risk to the child.
(17)(21) (a) "Physical or psychological harm to a child" means the harm that occurs whenever the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare:
(i) inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical abuse, physical neglect, or psychological abuse or neglect;
(ii) commits or allows sexual abuse or exploitation of the child;
(iii) induces or attempts to induce a child to give untrue testimony that the child or another child was abused or neglected by a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare;
(iv) causes malnutrition or a failure to thrive or otherwise fails to supply the child with adequate food or fails to supply clothing, shelter, education, or adequate health care, though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so;
(v) exposes or allows the child to be exposed to an unreasonable risk to the child's health or welfare by failing to intervene or eliminate the risk; or
(vi) abandons the child.
(b) The term does not include a youth not receiving supervision solely because of parental inability to control the youth's behavior.
(18)(22) (a) "Protective services" means services provided by the department:
(i) to enable a child alleged to have been abused or neglected to remain safely in the home;
(ii) to enable a child alleged to have been abused or neglected who has been removed from the home to safely return to the home; or
(iii) to achieve permanency for a child adjudicated as a youth in need of care when circumstances and the best interests of the child prevent reunification with parents or a return to the home.
(b) The term includes emergency protective services provided pursuant to 41-3-301, voluntary protective services provided pursuant to 41-3-302, and court-ordered protective services provided pursuant to parts 4 and 6 of this chapter.
(19)(23) (a) "Psychological abuse or neglect" means severe maltreatment through acts or omissions that are injurious to the child's emotional, intellectual, or psychological capacity to function, including the commission of acts of violence against another person residing in the child's home.
(b) The term may not be construed to hold a victim responsible for failing to prevent the crime against the victim.
(24) "Qualified expert witness" as used in cases involving an Indian child in proceedings subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act means:
(a) a member of the Indian child's tribe who is recognized by the tribal community as knowledgeable in tribal customs as they pertain to family organization and child-rearing practices;
(b) a lay expert witness who has substantial experience in the delivery of child and family services to Indians and extensive knowledge of prevailing social and cultural standards and child-rearing practices within the Indian child's tribe; or
(c) a professional person who has substantial education and experience in providing services to children and families and who possesses significant knowledge of and experience with Indian culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices in general.
(20)(25) "Reasonable cause to suspect" means cause that would lead a reasonable person to believe that child abuse or neglect may have occurred or is occurring, based on all the facts and circumstances known to the person.
(21)(26) "Residential setting" means an out-of-home placement where the child typically resides for longer than 30 days for the purpose of receiving food, shelter, security, guidance, and, if necessary, treatment.
(22)(27) (a) "Sexual abuse" means the commission of sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviate sexual conduct, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, or incest, as described in Title 45, chapter 5.
(b) Sexual abuse does not include any necessary touching of an infant's or toddler's genital area while attending to the sanitary or health care needs of that infant or toddler by a parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare.
(23)(28) "Sexual exploitation" means allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in a prostitution offense, as described in 45-5-601 through 45-5-603, or allowing, permitting, or encouraging sexual abuse of children as described in 45-5-625.
(24)(29) (a) "Social worker" means an employee of the department who, before the employee's field assignment, has been educated or trained in a program of social work or a related field that includes cognitive and family systems treatment or who has equivalent verified experience or verified training in the investigation of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment.
(b) This definition does not apply to any provision of this code that is not in this chapter.
(25)(30) "Treatment plan" means a written agreement between the department and the parent or guardian or a court order that includes action that must be taken to resolve the condition or conduct of the parent or guardian that resulted in the need for protective services for the child. The treatment plan may involve court services, the department, and other parties, if necessary, for protective services.
(26)(31) "Unfounded" means that after an investigation, the investigating person has determined that the reported abuse, neglect, or exploitation has not occurred.
(27)(32) "Unsubstantiated" means that after an investigation, the investigator was unable to determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the reported abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred.
(28)(33) (a) "Withholding of medically indicated treatment" means the failure to respond to an infant's life-threatening conditions by providing treatment, including appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication, that, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment, will be most likely to be effective in ameliorating or correcting the conditions.
(b) The term does not include the failure to provide treatment, other than appropriate nutrition, hydration, or medication, to an infant when, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment:
(i) the infant is chronically and irreversibly comatose;
(ii) the provision of treatment would:
(A) merely prolong dying;
(B) not be effective in ameliorating or correcting all of the infant's life-threatening conditions; or
(C) otherwise be futile in terms of the survival of the infant; or
(iii) the provision of treatment would be virtually futile in terms of the survival of the infant and the treatment itself under the circumstances would be inhumane. For purposes of this subsection (28) (33), "infant" means an infant less than 1 year of age or an infant 1 year of age or older who has been continuously hospitalized since birth, who was born extremely prematurely, or who has a long-term disability. The reference to less than 1 year of age may not be construed to imply that treatment should be changed or discontinued when an infant reaches 1 year of age or to affect or limit any existing protections available under state laws regarding medical neglect of children 1 year of age or older.
(29)(34) "Youth in need of care" means a youth who has been adjudicated or determined, after a hearing, to be or to have been abused, neglected, or abandoned."
Section 2. Section 41-3-205, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-205. Confidentiality -- disclosure exceptions. (1) The case records of the department and its local affiliate, the local office of public assistance, the county attorney, and the court concerning actions taken under this chapter and all records concerning reports of child abuse and neglect must be kept confidential except as provided by this section. Except as provided in subsections (6) and (7), a person who purposely or knowingly permits or encourages the unauthorized dissemination of the contents of case records is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) Records may be disclosed to a court for in camera inspection if relevant to an issue before it. The court may permit public disclosure if it finds disclosure to be necessary for the fair resolution of an issue before it.
(3) Records, including case notes, correspondence, evaluations, videotapes, and interviews, unless otherwise protected by this section or unless disclosure of the records is determined to be detrimental to the child or harmful to another person who is a subject of information contained in the records, may be disclosed to the following persons or entities in this state and any other state or country:
(a) a department, agency, or organization, including a federal agency, military enclave, or Indian tribal organization, that is legally authorized to receive, inspect, or investigate reports of child abuse or neglect and that otherwise meets the disclosure criteria contained in this section;
(b) a licensed youth care facility or a licensed child-placing agency that is providing services to the family or child who is the subject of a report in the records or to a person authorized by the department to receive relevant information for the purpose of determining the best interests of a child with respect to an adoptive placement;
(c) a health or mental health professional who is treating the family or child who is the subject of a report in the records;
(d) a parent, guardian, or person designated by a parent or guardian of the child who is the subject of a report in the records or other person responsible for the child's welfare, without disclosure of the identity of any person who reported or provided information on the alleged child abuse or neglect incident contained in the records;
(e) a child named in the records who was allegedly abused or neglected or the child's legal guardian or legal representative, including the child's guardian ad litem or attorney or a special advocate appointed by the court to represent a child in a pending case;
(f) the state protection and advocacy program as authorized by 42 U.S.C. 6042(a)(2)(B);
(g) approved foster and adoptive parents who are or may be providing care for a child;
(h) a person about whom a report has been made and that person's attorney, with respect to the relevant records pertaining to that person only and without disclosing the identity of the reporter or any other person whose safety may be endangered;
(i) an agency, including a probation or parole agency, that is legally responsible for the supervision of an alleged perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;
(j) a person, agency, or organization that is engaged in a bona fide research or evaluation project and that is authorized by the department to conduct the research or evaluation;
(k) the members of an interdisciplinary child protective team authorized under 41-3-108 or of a family group decisionmaking meeting for the purposes of assessing the needs of the child and family, formulating a treatment plan, and monitoring the plan;
(l) the coroner or medical examiner when determining the cause of death of a child;
(m) a child fatality review team recognized by the department;
(n) a department or agency investigating an applicant for a license or registration that is required to operate a youth care facility, day-care facility, or child-placing agency;
(o) a person or entity who is carrying out background, employment-related, or volunteer-related screening of current or prospective employees or volunteers who have or may have unsupervised contact with children through employment or volunteer activities. A request for information under this subsection (3)(o) must be made in writing. Disclosure under this subsection (3)(o) is limited to information that indicates a risk to children, persons with developmental disabilities, or older persons posed by the person about whom the information is sought, as determined by the department.
(p) the news media, a member of the United States congress, or a state legislator, if disclosure is limited to confirmation of factual information regarding how the case was handled and if disclosure does not violate the privacy rights of the child or the child's parent or guardian, as determined by the department;
(q) an employee of the department or other state agency if disclosure of the records is necessary for administration of programs designed to benefit the child;
(r) an agency of an Indian tribe, a qualified expert witness, or the relatives of an Indian child if disclosure of the records is necessary to meet requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act;
(s) a youth probation officer who is working in an official capacity with the child who is the subject of a report in the records;
(t) a county attorney, peace officer, or attorney who is hired by or represents the department if disclosure is necessary for the investigation, defense, or prosecution of a case involving child abuse or neglect;
(u) a foster care review committee established under 41-3-115 or, when applicable, a citizen review board established under Title 41, chapter 3, part 10;
(v) a school employee participating in an interview of a child by a social worker, county attorney, or peace officer, as provided in 41-3-202;
(w) a member of a county interdisciplinary child information team formed under the provisions of 52-2-211;
(x) members of a local interagency staffing group provided for in 52-2-203;
(y) a member of a youth placement committee formed under the provisions of 41-5-121; or
(z) a principal of a school or other employee of the school district authorized by the trustees of the district to receive the information with respect to a student of the district who is a client of the department.
(4) A school or school district may disclose, without consent, personally identifiable information from the education records of a pupil to the department, the court, a review board, and the child's court-appointed attorney, guardian ad litem, or special advocate.
(5) Information that identifies a person as a participant in or recipient of substance abuse treatment services may be disclosed only as allowed by federal substance abuse confidentiality laws, including the consent provisions of the law.
(6) A person who is authorized to receive records under this section shall maintain the confidentiality of the records and may not disclose information in the records to anyone other than the persons described in subsection (3)(a). However, this subsection may not be construed to compel a family member to keep the proceedings confidential.
(7) A news organization or its employee, including a freelance writer or reporter, is not liable for reporting facts or statements made by an immediate family member under subsection (6) if the news organization, employee, writer, or reporter maintains the confidentiality of the child who is the subject of the proceeding.
(8) This section is not intended to affect the confidentiality of criminal court records, records of law enforcement agencies, or medical records covered by state or federal disclosure limitations.
(9) Copies of records, evaluations, reports, or other evidence obtained or generated pursuant to this section that are provided to the parent, the guardian, or the parent or guardian's attorney must be provided without cost."
Section 3. Section 41-3-432, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-432. Show cause hearing -- order. (1) (a) Except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, a show cause hearing must be conducted within 20 days of the filing of an initial child abuse and neglect petition unless otherwise stipulated by the parties pursuant to 41-3-434 or unless an extension of time is granted by the court. A separate notice to the court stating the statutory time deadline for a hearing must accompany any petition to which the time deadline applies.
(b) If a proceeding under this chapter involves an Indian child and is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, a qualified expert witness is required to testify that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.
(b)(c) The court may grant an extension of time for a show cause hearing only upon a showing of substantial injustice and shall order an appropriate remedy that considers the best interests of the child.
(2) The person filing the petition has the burden of presenting evidence establishing probable cause for the issuance of an order for temporary investigative authority after the show cause hearing, except as provided by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable.
(3) At the show cause hearing, the court may consider all evidence and shall provide an opportunity for a parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child to provide testimony. Hearsay evidence of statements made by the affected child is admissible at the hearing. The parent, guardian, or other person may be represented by legal counsel. The court may permit testimony by telephone, audiovisual means, or other electronic means.
(4) At the show cause hearing, the court shall explain the procedures to be followed in the case and explain the parties' rights, including the right to request appointment of counsel if indigent or if appointment of counsel is required under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable, and the right to challenge the allegations contained in the petition. The parent, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child must be given the opportunity to admit or deny the allegations contained in the petition at the show cause hearing. Inquiry must be made to determine whether the notice requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable, have been met.
(5) The court shall make written findings on issues including but not limited to the following:
(a) whether the child should be returned home immediately if there has been an emergency removal or remain in temporary out-of-home care or be removed from the home;
(b) if removal is ordered or continuation of removal is ordered, why continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the child's best interests and welfare;
(c) whether the department has made reasonable efforts to avoid protective placement of the child or to make it possible to safely return the child to the child's home;
(d) financial support of the child, including inquiry into the financial ability of the parents, guardian, or other person having physical or legal custody of the child to contribute to the costs for the care, custody, and treatment of the child and requirements of a contribution for those costs pursuant to 41-3-446; and
(e) whether another hearing is needed and, if so, the date and time of the next hearing.
(6) The court may consider:
(a) terms and conditions for parental visitation; and
(b) whether orders for examinations, evaluations, counseling, immediate services, or protection are needed.
(7) Following the show cause hearing, the court may enter an order for the relief requested or amend a previous order for immediate protection of the child if one has been entered. The order must be in writing.
(8) If a child who has been removed from the child's home is not returned home after the show cause hearing or if removal is ordered, the parents or parent, guardian, or other person or agency having physical or legal custody of the child named in the petition may request that a citizen review board, if available pursuant to part 10 of this chapter, review the case within 30 days of the show cause hearing and make a recommendation to the district court, as provided in 41-3-1010.
(9) Adjudication of a child as a youth in need of care may be made at the show cause hearing if the requirements of 41-3-437(2) are met. If not made at the show cause hearing, adjudication under 41-3-437 must be made within the time limits required by 41-3-437 unless adjudication occurs earlier by stipulation of the parties pursuant to 41-3-434 and order of the court."
Section 4. Section 41-3-437, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-437. Adjudication -- temporary disposition -- findings -- order. (1) Upon the filing of an appropriate petition, an adjudicatory hearing must be held within 90 days of a show cause hearing under 41-3-432. Adjudication may take place at the show cause hearing if the requirements of subsection (2) are met or may be made by prior stipulation of the parties pursuant to 41-3-434 and order of the court. Exceptions to the time limit may be allowed only in cases involving newly discovered evidence, unavoidable delays, stipulation by the parties pursuant to 41-3-434, and unforeseen personal emergencies.
(2) The court may make an adjudication on a petition under 41-3-422 if the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence, except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable, that the child is a youth in need of care. Except as otherwise provided in this part, the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure and the Montana Rules of Evidence apply to adjudication and to an adjudicatory hearing. Adjudication must determine the nature of the abuse and neglect and establish facts that resulted in state intervention and upon which disposition, case work, court review, and possible termination are based.
(3) The court shall hear evidence regarding the residence of the child, paternity, if in question, the whereabouts of the parents, guardian, or nearest adult relative, and any other matters the court considers relevant in determining the status of the child. Hearsay evidence of statements made by the affected youth is admissible according to the Montana Rules of Evidence.
(4) In a case in which abandonment has been alleged by the county attorney, the attorney general, or an attorney hired by the county, the court shall hear offered evidence, including evidence offered by a person appearing pursuant to 41-3-422(9)(a) or (9)(b), regarding any of the following subjects:
(a) the extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, or supported by a person other than the child's parents; and
(b) whether the child was placed or allowed to remain by the parents with another person for the care of the child, and, if so, then the court shall accept evidence regarding:
(i) the intent of the parents in placing the child or allowing the child to remain with that person; and
(ii) the circumstances under which the child was placed or allowed to remain with that other person, including:
(A) whether a parent requesting return of the child was previously prevented from doing so as a result of an order issued pursuant to Title 40, chapter 15, part 2, or of a conviction pursuant to 45-5-206; and
(B) whether the child was originally placed with the other person to allow the parent to seek employment or attend school.
(5) In all civil and criminal proceedings relating to abuse or neglect, the privileges related to the examination or treatment of the child do not apply, except the attorney-client privilege granted by 26-1-803 and the mediation privilege granted by 26-1-813.
(6) (a) If the court determines that the child is not an abused or neglected child, the petition must be dismissed and any order made pursuant to 41-3-427 or 41-3-432 must be vacated.
(b) If the child is adjudicated a youth in need of care, the court shall set a date for a dispositional hearing to be conducted within 20 days, as provided in 41-3-438(2), and order any necessary or required investigations. The court may issue a temporary dispositional order pending the dispositional hearing. The temporary dispositional order may provide for any of the forms of relief listed in 41-3-427(2).
(7) (a) Before making an adjudication, the court may make oral findings, and following the adjudicatory hearing, the court shall make written findings on issues, including but not limited to the following:
(i) which allegations of the petition have been proved or admitted, if any;
(ii) whether there is a legal basis for continued court and department intervention; and
(iii) whether the department has made reasonable efforts to avoid protective placement of the child or to make it possible to safely return the child to the child's home.
(b) The court may order:
(i) terms for visitation, support, and other intrafamily communication pending disposition if the child is to be placed or to remain in temporary out-of-home care prior to disposition;
(ii) examinations, evaluations, or counseling of the child or parents in preparation for the disposition hearing that does not require an expenditure of money by the department unless the court finds after notice and a hearing that the expenditure is reasonable and that resources are available for payment. The department is the payor of last resort after all family, insurance, and other resources have been examined.
(iii) the department to evaluate the noncustodial parent or relatives as possible caretakers, if not already done;
(iv) the perpetrator of the alleged child abuse or neglect to be removed from the home to allow the child to remain in the home; and
(v) the department to continue efforts to notify noncustodial parents.
(8) If a proceeding under this chapter involves an Indian child and is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, a qualified expert witness is required to testify that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child."
Section 5. Section 41-3-609, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-609. Criteria for termination. (1) The court may order a termination of the parent-child legal relationship upon a finding established by clear and convincing evidence, except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable, that any of the following circumstances exist:
(a) the parents have relinquished the child pursuant to 42-2-402 and 42-2-412;
(b) the child has been abandoned by the parents;
(c) the parent is convicted of a felony in which sexual intercourse occurred or is a minor adjudicated a delinquent youth because of an act that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony in which sexual intercourse occurred and, as a result of the sexual intercourse, the child is born;
(d) the parent has subjected a child to any of the circumstances listed in 41-3-423(2)(a) through (2)(e);
(e) the putative father meets any of the criteria listed in 41-3-423(3)(a) through (3)(c); or
(f) the child is an adjudicated youth in need of care and both of the following exist:
(i) an appropriate treatment plan that has been approved by the court has not been complied with by the parents or has not been successful; and
(ii) the conduct or condition of the parents rendering them unfit is unlikely to change within a reasonable time.
(2) In determining whether the conduct or condition of the parents is unlikely to change within a reasonable time, the court shall enter a finding that continuation of the parent-child legal relationship will likely result in continued abuse or neglect or that the conduct or the condition of the parents renders the parents unfit, unable, or unwilling to give the child adequate parental care. In making the determinations, the court shall consider but is not limited to the following:
(a) emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency of the parent of a duration or nature as to render the parent unlikely to care for the ongoing physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child within a reasonable time;
(b) a history of violent behavior by the parent;
(c) excessive use of intoxicating liquor or of a narcotic or dangerous drug that affects the parent's ability to care and provide for the child; and
(d) present judicially ordered long-term confinement of the parent.
(3) In considering any of the factors in subsection (2) in terminating the parent-child relationship, the court shall give primary consideration to the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child.
(4) A treatment plan is not required under this part upon a finding by the court following hearing if:
(a) the parent meets the criteria of subsections (1)(a) through (1)(e);
(b) two medical doctors or clinical psychologists submit testimony that the parent cannot assume the role of parent within a reasonable time;
(c) the parent is or will be incarcerated for more than 1 year and reunification of the child with the parent is not in the best interests of the child because of the child's circumstances, including placement options, age, and developmental, cognitive, and psychological needs; or
(d) the death or serious bodily injury, as defined in 45-2-101, of a child caused by abuse or neglect by the parent has occurred.
(5) If a proceeding under this chapter involves an Indian child and is subject to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, a qualified expert witness is required to testify that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child."
Section 6. Notification to tribal governments. The secretary of state shall send a copy of [this act] to each tribal government located on the seven Montana reservations and to the Little Shell band of Chippewa.
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Version of SB 86 (SB0086.ENR)
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New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.
Sponsor names are handwritten on introduced bills, hence do not appear on the bill until it is reprinted.
See the status of this bill for the bill's primary sponsor.
Status of this Bill | 2005 Legislature | Leg. Branch
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Authorized print version w/line numbers (PDF format)
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