50-15-122. Disclosure of information from vital records or vital reports -- rules. (1) It is the policy of the state to protect the integrity of vital records and vital reports, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the system of vital statistics. In furtherance of the policy, a person may not permit inspection of or disclose information contained in vital records or in vital reports or copy or issue a copy of all or a part of a record or report unless authorized by this chapter, by administrative rule, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Rules adopted under this chapter must provide for adequate standards of security and confidentiality of vital records.
(2) The execution of a research agreement that protects the confidentiality of the information provided to a researcher in response to a written request is required for disclosure of information that may identify a person or institution named in a vital record or report. This agreement must be made in compliance with this chapter or rules adopted to implement this chapter. Each agreement must prohibit the release by the researcher of any information that might identify a person or institution, other than releases that may be provided for in the agreement.
(3) This section does not prohibit the release of information or data that does not identify a person or institution named in a vital record or report.
(4) A challenge to a decision of a custodian of vital records to refuse disclosing information from records, as prescribed by this section and rules issued to implement this section, must be made before the department in the case of a county clerk and recorder and to a district court in the case of the department. A challenge before the department must be in the form of a contested case pursuant to the Montana Administrative Procedure Act. An appeal of the department's decision to district court must be made by filing an original action pursuant to the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure.
(5) (a) Immediately upon the filing of a record with the department, the fact that a birth or death has occurred may be released to the public without restriction. Notwithstanding the restrictions provided in 50-15-121, complete birth records may be released to the public 30 years after the date of birth. The department shall adopt rules that provide for the continued safekeeping of the records.
(b) Upon the filing of a record of marriage with the clerk of the district court, information that may be released to the public without restriction is specifically limited to:
(i) the names of the parties, the age of the parties, and their place of birth;
(ii) the date and place of the marriage;
(iii) the names and addresses of the parents of the parties;
(iv) the name of the officiant; and
(v) the type of ceremony.
(c) Any other information contained in a marriage license application that is not authorized to be disclosed under subsection (5)(b) is considered confidential and is subject to the disclosure limitations and penalties provided in 50-15-114.
(d) Notwithstanding the restrictions provided in 50-15-121 and this section, the information contained in a marriage license and marriage certificate may be released to the public 30 years after the date of the marriage.
(e) Upon the filing of a record of a dissolution of marriage with the clerk of the district court, that record may be released to the public without restriction unless designated confidential by the court. A record of dissolution of marriage designated confidential by the court may be provided to a federal, state, or local government agency upon request when the record is used solely in the conduct of the agency's official duties.
(6) The department may provide the national center for health statistics or a successor agency with copies of records, reports, or data from the system of vital statistics that are required for national statistics. The department shall enter into an agreement with the center, indicating the scope of disclosure of information, as required by this chapter or rules implementing this chapter, concerning the use of records, reports, or data for statistical or research purposes. The agreement must set forth the financial support to be provided by the center for the collection, processing, and transmission of the records, reports, or data. Upon written request of the center, the department may approve, by amendment to the agreement, additional statistical or research uses of the records, reports, or data supplied under the agreement.
(7) Federal, state, and local governmental agencies may, subject to this chapter and rules implementing this chapter, upon request, be furnished copies of records or data from the system of vital statistics if the copies or data is used solely in the conduct of the agency's official duties. The department shall, upon request by a licensed adoption agency, provide a birth certificate and related records for purposes of adoption, termination of parental rights, custody actions, paternity actions, child support actions, social security eligibility determinations, or Indian tribal enrollment determinations.
(8) Subject to this chapter and rules implementing this chapter, the department may, by agreement, transmit copies of records and other reports required to be compiled by this chapter to offices of vital statistics outside this state when the records or reports concern residents of those jurisdictions or persons born in those jurisdictions. The agreement must specify the statistical and administrative purposes for which the records may be used, and the agreement must provide instructions concerning proper retention, confidentiality requirements, and disposition of the copies. Copies received by the department from offices of vital statistics in other states must be handled as provided for in this subsection.
History: En. Sec. 8, Ch. 515, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 416, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 91, L. 2001.