In re M.S. , September 30, 2014 (Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Public Health and Human Services filed petition to terminate parental rights of mother and Indian father to Indian child. Notice was given to father’s tribe, and tribe intervened. The petition was dismissed and then refiled. Mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. The Eighth Judicial District Court, County of Cascade, Dirk M. Sandefur, J., entered order terminating father’s parental rights, and he appealed.

Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Beth Baker, J., held that:
(1) evidence did not show that Department strictly complied with requirements for notice to tribe under Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA);
(2) Department’s failure to strictly comply with notice requirements was harmless error;
(3) Department made active efforts to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent breakup of Indian family, as prerequisite to termination of father’s parental rights;
(4) district court adequately found that continued custody of child by father was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to child; and
(5) termination of parental rights was not by summary judgment.

Read the full decision on the National Indian Law Library website.