Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Montana

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 41-3-423; 41-3-609

The court may order a termination of parental rights upon a finding established by clear and convincing evidence that any of the following circumstances exist:

  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony sexual offense that resulted in the birth of the child.
  • The parent has done any of the following:
    • Subjected a child to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or chronic and severe neglect
    • Committed, aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited deliberate or mitigated deliberate homicide of a child
    • Committed aggravated assault against a child
    • Committed neglect of a child that resulted in serious bodily injury or death
    • Had parental rights to the child's sibling or other child of the parent involuntarily terminated, and the circumstances related to the termination of parental rights are relevant to the parent's ability to adequately care for the child at issue
  • A putative father has failed to do any of the following:
    • Contribute to the support of the child for an aggregate period of 1 year, although able to do so
    • Establish a substantial relationship with the child, as demonstrated by visiting the child at least monthly or maintaining regular contact when physically and financially able to do so
    • Register with the putative father registry
  • Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
  • The conduct or condition of the parent makes the parent 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:
    • 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
    • A history of violent behavior by the parent
    • 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
    • Incarceration of the parent 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

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-609(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.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.