41-3-438. Disposition -- hearing -- order. (1) Unless a petition is dismissed or unless otherwise stipulated by the parties pursuant to 41-3-434 or ordered by the court, a dispositional hearing must be held on every petition filed under this chapter within 20 days after an adjudicatory order has been entered under 41-3-437. Exceptions to the time limit may be allowed only in cases involving newly discovered evidence, unavoidable delays, stipulation by the parties pursuant to 41-3-434, and unforeseen personal emergencies.
(2) (a) A dispositional order must be made after a dispositional hearing that is separate from the adjudicatory hearing under 41-3-437. The hearing process must be scheduled and structured so that dispositional issues are specifically addressed apart from adjudicatory issues. Hearsay evidence is admissible at the dispositional hearing.
(b) A dispositional hearing may follow an adjudicatory hearing in a bifurcated manner immediately after the adjudicatory phase of the proceedings if:
(i) all required reports are available and have been received by all parties or their attorneys at least 5 working days in advance of the hearing; and
(ii) the judge has an opportunity to review the reports after the adjudication.
(c) The dispositional hearing may be held prior to the entry of written findings required by 41-3-437.
(3) If a child is found to be a youth in need of care under 41-3-437, the court may enter its judgment, making any of the following dispositions to protect the welfare of the child:
(a) permit the child to remain with the child's custodial parent or guardian, subject to those conditions and limitations the court may prescribe;
(b) order the department to evaluate the noncustodial parent as a possible caretaker;
(c) order the temporary placement of the child with the noncustodial parent, superseding any existing custodial order, and keep the proceeding open pending completion by the custodial parent of any treatment plan ordered pursuant to 41-3-443;
(d) order the placement of the child with the noncustodial parent, superseding any existing custodial order, and dismiss the proceeding with no further obligation on the part of the department to provide services to the parent with whom the child is placed or to work toward reunification of the child with the parent or guardian from whom the child was removed in the initial proceeding;
(e) grant an order of limited emancipation to a child who is 16 years of age or older, as provided in 41-1-503;
(f) transfer temporary legal custody to any of the following:
(i) the department;
(ii) a licensed child-placing agency that is willing and able to assume responsibility for the education, care, and maintenance of the child and that is licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care of the child; or
(iii) a nonparent relative or other individual who has been evaluated and recommended by the department or a licensed child-placing agency designated by the court and who is found by the court to be qualified to receive and care for the child;
(g) order a party to the action to do what is necessary to give effect to the final disposition, including undertaking medical and psychological evaluations, treatment, and counseling that does not require an expenditure of money by the department unless the department consents and informs the court that resources are available for payment. The department is the payor of last resort after all family, insurance, and other resources have been examined.
(h) order further care and treatment as the court considers in the best interests of the child that does not require an expenditure of money by the department unless the department consents and informs the court that resources are available for the proposed care and treatment. The department is the payor of last resort after all family, insurance, and other resources have been examined pursuant to 41-3-446.
(4) (a) If the court awards temporary legal custody of an abandoned child other than to the department or to a noncustodial parent, the court shall award temporary legal custody of the child to a member of the child's extended family, including adult siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, if:
(i) placement of the abandoned child with the extended family member is in the best interests of the child;
(ii) the extended family member requests that the child be placed with the family member;
(iii) the extended family member is able to offer continuity of care for the child by providing permanency or stability in residence, schooling, and activities outside of the home; and
(iv) the extended family member is found by the court to be qualified to receive and care for the child.
(b) If more than one extended family member satisfies the requirements of subsection (4)(a), the court may award custody to the extended family member who can best meet the child's needs.
(c) If a member of the child's extended family, including an adult sibling, grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, or uncle, has requested that custody be awarded to that family member, the department shall investigate and determine if awarding custody to the family member is in the best interests of the child. The department shall provide the reasons for any denial to the court. If the court accepts the department's custody recommendation, the court shall inform any denied family member of the reasons for the denial to the extent that confidentiality laws allow. The court shall include the reasons for denial in the court order if the family member who is denied temporary legal custody requests it to be included.
(5) If reasonable efforts have been made to prevent removal of a child from the home or to return a child to the child's home but continuation of the efforts is determined by the court to be inconsistent with permanency for the child, the department shall make reasonable efforts to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with a permanent plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.
(6) If the court finds that reasonable efforts are not necessary pursuant to 41-3-442(1) or subsection (5) of this section, a permanency hearing must be held within 30 days of that determination and reasonable efforts must be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.
(7) If the time limitations of this section are not met, the court shall review the reasons for the failure and order an appropriate remedy that considers the best interests of the child.
History: En. 10-1314 by Sec. 10, Ch. 328, L. 1974; R.C.M. 1947, 10-1314; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 567, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 170, Ch. 575, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 564, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 659, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 609, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 696, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 362, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 458, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 170, Ch. 546, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 516, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 428, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 566, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 194, L. 2001; amd. Secs. 10, 18(3), Ch. 281, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 311, L. 2001; Sec. 41-3-406, MCA 1999; redes. 41-3-438 by Sec. 17(2), Ch. 281, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 12, Ch. 504, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 178, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 382, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 73, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 179, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 210, L. 2009.