Montana ICWA Case: Notice, Active Efforts and a Look at Adoptive Couple Citations


A footnote in the case,

The record does not clarify whether G.S. ever had custody of M.S. The record is silent regarding G.S.’s relationship with M.S. prior to his incarceration. We recognize that 25 U.S.C. 1912(d) does not apply where the “breakup of the Indian family” has long since occurred. In re J.S., 2014 MT 79, P29, 374 Mont. 329, 321 P.3d 103 (citing Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2552, 2559 (2013)). Although the District Court asked during the April 22, 2013 hearing, before Baby Girl was decided, how the ICWA standard for termination applies in a situation where the child was never in the parent’s custody, the parties did not dispute that ICWA’s active efforts were required. Because this potential issue was not raised, we will not address it in this appeal.

got me looking for other cases that have cited Adoptive Couple. According to Westlaw, that would be 19 cases, including this one. Striking four of them as not child welfare cases, all 15 remaining were involuntary proceedings. Five from California, two from Montana, and one in Alaska, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia.  Three cases “distinguished” Adoptive Couple, though that included the Alexandria P. case, so distinguishing Adoptive Couple doesn’t necessarily mean the court followed ICWA. Seven of the cases only cited the case (including this one).

Those that used the Adoptive Couple reasoning (instead of citing the case for fairly standard ICWA language)  include:

Native Villiage of Tununak v. State (holding that the adoption preferences of ICWA didn’t apply if the preferred placement didn’t “formally” move to adopt the child);

In re J.S. (applying the “continued custody” reasoning to a guardianship); and

In re Elise W. (discussing whether the case would change notice requirements when a parent never had custody)(unpublished case out of California’s First District).

In re T.S. (discussing when active efforts must start, in light of 1922 and 1912(d))

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