Submitted on Briefs: November 14, 2018
FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and
For the County of Broadwater, Cause No. BDN-2017-05 Honorable
Michael F. McMahon, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Gregory D. Birdsong, Birdsong Law Office, PC,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark
Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Swanson, Broadwater County Attorney, Townsend, Montana
MCGRATH CHIEF JUSTICE
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
P.G. (Mother) appeals from an order of the First Judicial
District Court, Broadwater County, terminating parental
rights to her child K.C. pursuant to § 41-3-609(1)(d),
MCA. We affirm.
The Montana Department of Health and Human Services, Child
and Family Services Division (Department), became involved
with the family in February 2013, after receiving a report
that Mother had been arrested for Partner or Family Member
Assault (PFMA) against her male partner and was exposing K.C.
and K.G. (K.C.'s half-sister by another father) to
domestic violence. Mother, K.C, and K.G. lived in a
three-bedroom trailer on family property near Toston,
Montana. K.C.'s grandmother also lived on the
property, one hundred yards from the trailer.
Child Protection Specialist (CPS) Supervisor Brent Lashinsky
testified the fight was over the male partner's meth use
and whether he showed nude photographs on his phone to K.C.
and K.G. The male partner was on probation for drug-related
charges. The girls were asleep when the fight took place. The
State later dismissed the charge. The Department was unable
to locate the family and could not verify the report. Mother
was twice previously convicted of PFMA for physical
altercations with male partners, on June 12, 1999, and on
June 27, 2011.
On June 18, 2013, the Department received a second report
concerning the family. Mother was arrested for punching K.G.
several times in the face with a closed fist and pulling her
hair. K.G. was ten and K.C. was six at the time. K.C. was
present for the incident and told the CPS who investigated
that Mother asked K.G. if she wanted to die while hitting her
repeatedly. CPS Lashinsky testified that K.G.'s injuries
were "extensive enough that she needed to be taken to
the doctor," where an x-ray verified her broken nose.
When asked by the Department about the incident, Mother
explained that she did not know what happened and that she
"blacked out" due to her bipolar disorder. On April
2, 2014, Mother pleaded guilty to the charge of assault on a
minor, a felony, and the District Court sentenced her to five
On September 17, 2013, the District Court adjudicated K.C.
and K.G. as youths in need of care (YINC) and granted the
Department temporary legal custody (TLC) of the girls. K.C.
stayed with her paternal aunt's family for six weeks
during this time.
The Department designed a treatment plan for Mother, which
required Mother to engage in counseling with K.G., chemical
dependency testing and evaluation, and advised Mother to keep
her children away from men that jeopardized their safety. The
Department acknowledged that Mother was bipolar and required
her to have "medication management done," but did
not require her to engage in any form of anger management.
CPS Lashinsky testified that this treatment plan was
"very basic." Mother quickly completed the
treatment plan, was reunited with K.C. and K.G, and the
Department dismissed the case in October 2014.
In January 2015, the Department received a report that Mother
was arrested for another PFMA, this time for slapping K.C.
across the face. Halane Vandyken, the family's neighbor,
testified that at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., K.G. ran across the road
to her house, knocked, was "crying and frantic,"
and asked her to call the police because Mother hit K.C. The
Vandykens called the police and Mother was arrested. An
officer brought K.C. over to the Vandykens' house and
asked if the Vandykens could house the girls. Two ...