Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 1. Adoption Policy and Procedures

Rights And Responsibilities Of Parties In Adoption Proceedings

42-1-108. Rights and responsibilities of parties in adoption proceedings. (1) The legislature finds that the rights and interests of all parties affected by an adoption proceeding must be considered and balanced in determining the necessary constitutional protection and appropriate processes.

(2) The legislature finds that:

(a) every child deserves to be raised by a family in which support and care are promptly provided by one or more parents in a nurturing environment on a regular and ongoing basis;

(b) the state has a compelling interest in providing stable and permanent homes for adoptive children in a prompt manner, in preventing the disruption of adoptive placements, and in holding parents accountable for meeting the needs of children;

(c) an unmarried mother, faced with the responsibility of making crucial decisions about the future of a newborn child, is entitled to privacy, has the right to make timely and appropriate decisions regarding the mother's future and the future of the child, and is entitled to assurance regarding the permanence of an adoptive placement;

(d) adoptive children have a right to permanence and stability in adoptive placements;

(e) adoptive parents have a constitutionally protected liberty and privacy interest in retaining custody of an adopted child; and

(f) a birth father who is not married to the child's mother has the primary responsibility to protect the father's rights. The father's inchoate interest in the child requires constitutional protection only when the father has demonstrated a timely commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood, both during pregnancy and upon the child's birth. The state has a compelling interest in requiring a birth father to demonstrate that commitment by:

(i) timely and consistently providing financial support;

(ii) complying with the requirements of the putative father registry; and

(iii) demonstrating the establishment of a substantial relationship with the child as described in 42-2-610.

(3) If a birth father who is not married to the child's mother fails to grasp the opportunities that are available to the father to establish a relationship with the child, the father's parental rights will be lost entirely by the failure to timely exercise it or by the failure to comply with the available legal steps to substantiate the parental interest.

History: En. Sec. 8, Ch. 480, L. 1997.