Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 2. Support, Custody, Visitation, and Related Provisions

Investigations And Reports

40-4-215. Investigations and reports. (1) If a parent or a court-appointed third party requests, or if the court finds that a parenting proceeding is contested, the court may order an investigation and report concerning parenting arrangements for the child. The investigator may be the child's guardian ad litem or other professional considered appropriate by the court. The department of public health and human services may not be ordered to conduct the investigation or draft a report unless the person requesting the investigation is a recipient of cash assistance, as defined in 53-4-201, or a participant in the food stamp program, as defined in 53-2-902, and all reasonable options for payment of the investigation, if conducted by a person not employed by the department, are exhausted. The department may consult with any investigator and share information relevant to the child's best interests. The cost of the investigation and report must be paid according to the final order. The cost of the educational evaluation under subsection (2)(a) must be paid by the state as provided in 3-5-901.

(2) The court shall determine, if appropriate, the level of evaluation necessary for adequate investigation and preparation of the report, which may include one or more of the following:

(a) parenting education;

(b) mediation pursuant to 40-4-301;

(c) factfinding by the investigator; and

(d) psychological evaluation of the parties.

(3) In preparing a report concerning a child, the investigator may consult any person who has information about the child and the child's potential parenting arrangements. Upon order of the court, the investigator may refer the child to professional personnel for diagnosis. Except as required for children 16 years of age or older, the investigator may consult with and obtain information from medical, psychiatric, or other expert persons who have served the child in the past without obtaining the consent of the persons or entities authorized by law to grant or withhold access to the records. The child's consent must be obtained if the child is 16 years of age or older unless the court finds that the child lacks mental capacity to consent. If the requirements of subsection (4) are fulfilled, the investigator's report may be received in evidence at the hearing.

(4) The investigator shall mail the investigator's report to counsel and to any party not represented by counsel at least 10 days prior to the hearing. When consistent with state and federal law, the investigator shall make available to counsel and to any party not represented by counsel the investigator's file of underlying data and reports, complete texts of diagnostic reports made to the investigator pursuant to the provisions of subsection (3), and the names and addresses of all persons whom the investigator has consulted. Any party to the proceeding may call the investigator and any person the investigator has consulted for cross-examination. A party may not waive the right of cross-examination prior to the hearing. The results of the investigation must be included in the court record and may, without objection, be sealed.

History: En. 48-335 by Sec. 35, Ch. 536, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 48-335; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 277, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 624, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 434, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 561, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 48, Ch. 18, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 122, Ch. 546, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 18, Ch. 343, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 486, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 465, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 32, Ch. 585, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 8, Ch. 88, L. 2013; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 41, L. 2019.