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In re A.R.N.

Supreme Court of Montana

May 30, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: A.R.N., A Youth in Need of Care.

          Submitted on Briefs: May 24, 2017

         District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DN 15-10 Honorable James A. Haynes, Presiding Judge

         For Appellant:

          Craig Shannon, Attorney at Law, Missoula, Montana

         For Appellee:

          Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          William Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Howard F. Recht, Deputy County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana

          OPINION

          Laurie McKinnon Justice

         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Appellant Birth Mother appeals the decision of the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County, terminating her parental rights to A.R.N. Birth Mother argues that the court failed to identify the standard of proof it employed in terminating her rights and that there was not clear and convincing evidence that the circumstances rendering her unfit were unlikely to change within a reasonable amount of time. We affirm.

         ¶3 A.R.N. was born in May of 2014 and has resided in foster care since October of 2015, nearly two-thirds of A.R.N.'s life. Birth Mother and Birth Father are not married and Birth Mother has two other children who live with their birth father and are not the subject of these proceedings.

         ¶4 On January 19, 2015, Birth Mother was exhibiting paranoid, erratic, and incoherent behaviors. Law enforcement witnessed her screaming profanities into her phone while holding A.R.N., then eight months old, while under the influence of drugs. As a result, Birth Mother was charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment.

         ¶5 In April of 2015, Birth Mother took one of her other children while that child was in the care of the child's birth father. When the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (the Department) intervened and removed the child from Birth Mother one week later to return the child to birth father, the Department found the child was filthy and unbathed, the child's hair was matted, and was wearing the same clothes when taken from birth father.

         ¶6 Prior to the Department's filing its emergency petition for removal of A.R.N., A.R.N. had been residing primarily with Birth Father due to Birth Mother's felony criminal endangerment charges. However, Birth Father was arrested and detained on charges of partner or family member assault and burglary on August 14, 2015. While detained, Birth Mother surreptitiously obtained A.R.N. by having her sister and sister's boyfriend pick up A.R.N. from where she was staying and lying about their intentions. A.R.N. was returned to Birth Father until October 2015, when ...


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