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In re B.W.S.

Supreme Court of Montana

December 27, 2016

IN THE MATTER OF: B.W.S., Youth in Need of Care.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 16, 2016

         District Court of the Ninth Judicial District, In and For the County of Glacier, Cause No. DN-12-01 Honorable Daniel A. Boucher, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Patrick Gilbert, Corinne Gilbert, Self-Represented, Springfield, Oregon

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Assistant Attorney General

          Bradley Custer, Assistant Attorney General, Kalispell, Montana

          Carolyn Berkram, Glacier County Attorney, Cut Bank, Montana

          OPINION

          Patricia Cotter, Justice

         ¶1 Intervenors Patrick and Corinne Gilbert appeal from a placement hearing held in the Ninth Judicial District Court, Glacier County, determining that the Department of Health and Human Services's (Department) placement of B.W.S. with the Watson family was in B.W.S.'s best interests. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         ¶2 On appeal, the Gilberts raise nine issues. We restate the dispositive issue as follows:

         Whether the District Court erred in determining that it was in B.W.S.'s best interest to remain in her placement with her current foster family?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Born in January 2012, B.W.S. was removed from the care of her birth mother (Mother) on January 27, 2012, and placed in protective custody by the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division. Subsequently, B.W.S. was adjudicated a youth in need of care and temporary legal custody was granted to the Department. B.W.S. was placed with Jared and Cindy Watson on February 13, 2012, and has remained in that placement since that time. In June of 2013, the Department determined B.W.S. should remain in the care of the Watsons instead of being moved to reside with the Gilberts in Oregon. The Gilberts currently have custody of two of B.W.S.'s biological half-siblings. Citing their belief that B.W.S. should be with her half-siblings, the Gilberts intervened in the case in August 2013, contesting B.W.S.'s placement with the Watsons.

         ¶4 In November 2013, in a separate action, Mother appealed the District Court's termination of her parental rights and this Court reversed, see In re B.W.S., 2014 MT 198, 376 Mont. 43, 330 P.3d 467, determining that the district court judge should have recused himself. In re B.W.S., ΒΆ 19. On remand, the District Court set a hearing for January 2015 to determine whether to terminate Mother's parental rights. Following a hearing, the District Court terminated Mother's and any and all ...


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