In the Matter of IT

In the Matter of IT, 2015 MT 43 (Feb. 17, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (4-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion when it terminated Mother’s parental rights; (2) whether the district court erred by considering hearsay evidence; and (3) whether there are equitable grounds upon which relief from the district court’s order should be granted.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; and (3) no.


Facts: Mother’s parental rights to three of her four children were terminated in February 2013; the fourth child was born soon thereafter. Mother admits to using drugs, and the baby was placed in neonatal intensive are for drug withdrawal shortly after birth. DPHHS petitioned for emergency protective services for the newborn, which was granted, and the baby was placed in foster care.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held it did not need to provide reunification services for Mother because the conditions leading to the termination of her parental rights to the three older children were unlike to change. After several subsequent hearings, the district court terminated Mother’s parental rights to the baby. Mother appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Circumstances surrounding previous involuntary terminations of parental rights are relevant unless circumstances have changed. The district court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence.