Submitted on Briefs: November 28, 2018
District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For
the County of Missoula, Cause No. DN 15-85 Honorable Leslie
Halligan, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Michael P. Sinks, Attorney at Law, Bozeman,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy A.
Hinderman, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana.
Kirsten H. Pabst, Missoula County Attorney, Jessica Finley,
Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana.
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
The father of M.B. appeals from the Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law and Order Terminating Father's
Parental Rights and Awarding CFS Permanent Legal Custody with
the Right to Consent to Adoption of the Montana Fourth
Judicial District Court, Missoula County, which terminated
his parental rights to M.B. We affirm.
In October 2016, M.B.'s paternal grandmother contacted
the Department of Public Health and Human Services' Child
and Family Services Division ("the Department")
because Father had left M.B. in her care, she could not
locate Father, and she was unable to care for M.B. The
Department removed M.B. Father stipulated to M.B.'s
adjudication as a youth in need of care with the Department
assuming temporary legal custody.
In February 2017, the District Court approved a treatment
plan for Father which required him, in part, to: undergo a
chemical dependency evaluation and follow its
recommendations; submit to random drug and alcohol testing;
successfully complete parenting classes; attend visits and
maintain contact with M.B.; submit to a mental health
evaluation and follow its recommendations; successfully
participate in counseling/therapy; obtain and maintain safe
and adequate housing; and maintain contact with the
On October 16, 2017, the Department petitioned the District
Court for termination of Father's parental rights. The
Department alleged the only progress Father had made on his
treatment plan was completion of a mental health evaluation,
but he failed to follow the recommendations. The Department
acknowledged Father had participated in a chemical dependency
evaluation, but noted the evaluator recommended re-evaluation
because Father was uncooperative and the results were
After hearing, the District Court terminated Father's
parental rights. The court noted Father had been only
sporadically engaged in the case, failing to appear at many
of the hearings. It found Father failed to complete his
treatment plan, including failing to: follow the
recommendations of the chemical dependency evaluator;
demonstrate an ability to remain sober and drug-free;
participate in random drug testing; complete parenting
classes; maintain regular contact with M.B.; participate in
counseling; and maintain safe and stable housing.
The court further found Father's conduct was unlikely to
change within a reasonable time. Although it acknowledged
Father had recently obtained employment and housing, it found
his overall progress had been marginal and inconsistent, and
he had failed to demonstrate an ability to remain
consistently in M.B.'s life, to provide M.B. with
long-term stability, and to meet M.B.'s needs. The court
based the finding that Father's conduct was unlikely to
change within a reasonable time on Father's lack of
motivation to be integrated into M.B.'s daily life, his
unwillingness to accept accountability for M.B.'s
circumstances, and his unwillingness or inability to address
concerns regarding chemical dependency and mental health.
Father raises two issues on appeal: The District Court
violated his due process rights by failing to advise him of
his rights as required by § 41-3-432(4), MCA, and the
District Court erred in ...