Submitted on Briefs: May 8, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Cascade, Cause No. DDN 16-028(a) Honorable
Gregory G. Pinski, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Julie Brown, Montana Legal Justice, PLLC,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F.
Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana.
A. Racki, Cascade County Attorney, Valerie Winfield, Deputy
County Attorney, Great Falls, 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
R.L. (Father) appeals the Cascade County District Court's
June 22, 2018 Order terminating his parental rights to his
child K.L. (Child). We affirm.
On February 4, 2016, the Department of Child and Family
Services (Department) filed a petition for temporary
investigative authority (TIA) regarding the Child. At that
time, Mother was homeless, Father was in Prerelease, and
Child was seven years old and had lived most of his life with
his grandmother. Child is an Indian Child. Father, through
counsel, stipulated to TIA. In July 2016, Father advised CPS
Bass he intended to relinquish his parental rights to Child.
At the August 12, 2016 review hearing, the Department
indicated it would be filing a petition to adjudicate Child
as a Youth in Need of Care (YINC) and Father, through
counsel, indicated he intended to stipulate to the
Initially, the Department considered Father a non-offending
parent and believed he would be able to parent upon his
discharge from prerelease. At the adjudication hearing on
November 4, 2016, however, CPS Bass testified that upon
Father's release from prerelease, she advised him there
was no legal reason Child could not be placed with him.
Father declined to have Child placed in his care as he was
struggling with sobriety and stability and his wife did not
desire Child to be in their home. Child was adjudicated a
YINC on November 4, 2016, and the Department was granted
temporary legal custody (TLC) for a period of six months.
Thereafter, Father did not engage with the Department until
In February 2017, Father requested a visit with Child.
Following the visit, Father again stopped communication with
the Department and did not follow through on additional
visits. In April 2017, Father again contacted the Department
to reinitiate visitation. CPS Bass expressed concern
regarding Father's prior inconsistency and lack of
commitment. As Father admitted he continued to struggle with
sobriety and stability, the Department developed a treatment
plan for Father. On June 9, 2017, Father stipulated to
extension of TLC and to his proposed treatment plan.
In September 2017, Father advised CPS Bass he intended to
leave the state, but then contacted CPS Bass in October 2017
to advise he wanted to attend treatment. In response, CPS
Bass set a meeting with Father, but he did not show up to the
meeting as he was incarcerated in tribal jail in Browning,
where he remained until April 2018.
On February 6, 2018, the Department filed a petition to
terminate Father's parental rights for failure to
complete his treatment plan and abandonment. Shortly before
the termination hearing set for April 16, 2018, Father sought
a continuance to provide him an opportunity to participate in
the District Court's drug treatment court. The District
Court continued the termination hearing to June 20, 2018, and
Father was released to go to Cascade County. Thereafter,
Father did not participate in drug court as he was
re-arrested and charged with felony assault and misdemeanor
partner or family member assault.
Following the June 20, 2018 termination hearing, the District
Court terminated Father's parental rights. Father appeals
asserting only that the Department failed to provide ...