Placement of Children With Relatives - North Dakota

Date: September 2022

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship

Citation: Cent. Code §§ 27-20.3-01; 27-20.3-19

The term 'fit and willing relative or other appropriate individual' means a relative or other person who has consented in writing to act as a legal guardian.

'Extended family member' means a relationship defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's Tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, means a person who has reached age 18 and who is the Indian child's grandparent, sibling, sibling-in-law, a parent's sibling and their adult child, first or second cousin, or stepparent.

An 'Indian custodian' is 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 has been transferred by the child's parent.

'Parent' means any birth parent of an Indian child or any Indian individual who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including adoptions under Tribal law or custom.

An Indian child may be placed in foster care only if the court determines, by clear and convincing evidence, that continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child. Evidence must show a causal relationship between the conditions in the home and the likelihood that continued custody of the child will result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child. Poverty, isolation, custodian age, crowded or inadequate housing, substance use, or nonconforming social behavior does not by itself constitute clear and convincing evidence of imminent serious emotional or physical harm to the child. As soon as the threat has been removed and the child is no longer at risk, the State should end the placement by returning the child to the parent while offering a solution to mitigate the situation that gave rise to the need for placement.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives

Citation: Cent. Code §§ 27-20.3-01; 50-11-01; 50-11-00.1

Before the fit and willing relative or other appropriate individual can accept guardianship, an assessment must be made that includes a criminal history record investigation.

No person may furnish foster care for children for more than 30 days a year without first procuring a license. This provision does not apply when the care is provided in the home of an identified relative. A relative providing care shall submit to a criminal history record investigation as required under § 50-11-06.8.

An 'identified relative' includes any of the following:

  • The child's grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, half-sibling, first cousin, or a parent's sibling and their adult children, or grandparent's sibling
  • An individual with a relationship to the child derived through a current or former spouse of the child's parent
  • A person recognized in the child's community as having a familylike relationship with the child
  • The child's stepparent

Requirements for Placement of Siblings

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20.3-18

Reasonable efforts must be made to preserve families, reunify families, and maintain family connections, as follows:

  • If applicable, to place siblings in the same foster care, relative, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless it is determined that such a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
  • In the case of siblings removed from their home who are not jointly placed, to provide for frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the siblings, unless it is contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings

Relatives Who May Adopt

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-15-01

A relative is any person related to the minor by marriage, blood, or adoption, including a grandparent, sibling, stepsibling, first cousin, or parent's sibling.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-15-11

The report of the investigation must contain a review of the child's history; a preplacement adoption assessment of the petitioner, including a criminal history record investigation of the petitioner; a postplacement evaluation of the placement with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption; and any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or the minor.

An investigation and report are not required in cases in which a stepparent is the petitioner or the person to be adopted is an adult.

The court may waive the home study requirement if the petitioner is a relative other than a stepparent, the minor has lived with the petitioner for at least 9 months, and no allegations of abuse or neglect have been filed against the petitioner or any member of the petitioner's household.