2009 Montana Code Annotated
TITLE 41. MINORS
CHAPTER 3. CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Part 6. Parent-Child Legal Relationship Termination
41-3-604. When petition to terminate parental rights required.


     41-3-604. When petition to terminate parental rights required. (1) If a child has been in foster care under the physical custody of the state for 15 months of the most recent 22 months, the best interests of the child must be presumed to be served by termination of parental rights. If a child has been in foster care for 15 months of the most recent 22 months or if the court has found that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a child with the child's parent or guardian are not required pursuant to 41-3-423, a petition to terminate parental rights must be filed unless:
     (a) the child is being cared for by a relative;
     (b) the department has not provided the services considered necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home; or
     (c) the department has documented a compelling reason, available for court review, for determining that filing a petition to terminate parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child.
     (2) Compelling reasons for not filing a petition to terminate parental rights include but are not limited to the following:
     (a) There are insufficient grounds for filing a petition.
     (b) There is adequate documentation that termination of parental rights is not the appropriate plan and not in the best interests of the child.
     (3) If a child has been in foster care for 15 months of the most recent 22 months and a petition to terminate parental rights regarding that child has not been filed with the court, the department shall file a report to the court or review panel at least 3 days prior to the next hearing or review detailing the reasons that the petition was not filed.
     (4) If a hearing results in a finding of abandonment or that the parent has subjected the child to any of the circumstances listed in 41-3-423(2)(a) through (2)(e) and that reasonable efforts to provide preservation or reunification are not necessary, unless there is an exception made pursuant to subsections (1)(a) through (1)(c) of this section, a petition to terminate parental rights must be filed within 60 days of the finding.
     (5) If an exception in subsections (1)(a) through (1)(c) of this section applies, a petition for an extension of temporary legal custody pursuant to 41-3-438, a petition for long-term custody pursuant to 41-3-445, or a petition to dismiss must be filed.

     History: En. Sec. 14, Ch. 566, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 16, Ch. 311, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 504, L. 2003.

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