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People ex rel. C. A.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Divison A

October 19, 2017

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of C.A., a Child, and Concerning R.A. and N.C., Respondents-Appellants.

         Montrose County District Court No. 15JV81 Honorable David S. Westfall, Judge

          Teresa Williams, County Attorney, Julie R. Andress, Assistant County Attorney, Montrose, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          Julie J. Huffman, Guardian Ad Litem

          Law Office of David R. Gloss, David R. Gloss, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant R.A.

          Deborah Gans, Denver, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant N.C.

          Furman, Ashby, and Welling, JJ.

          ORDER OF LIMITED REMAND

          PER CURIAM

         ¶ 1 In this dependency and neglect proceeding, N.C. (mother) and R.A. (father) appeal the trial court's judgment terminating their parent-child legal relationships with C.A. (the child). Among other issues, mother contends that the trial court did not comply with the inquiry provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901 to 1963 (2012).

         ¶ 2 To decide if the trial court complied with ICWA, we must answer a question that has yet to be decided in Colorado: When a trial court inquires at an initial temporary custody hearing at the commencement of the dependency and neglect proceeding whether there is a reason to know that the child is an Indian child, must it make another inquiry when termination is sought? We conclude that the answer is "yes, " at least when the court has not already identified the child as an Indian child and the petitioning party has not disclosed what efforts it has made to determine if the child is an Indian child.

         ¶ 3 Because the record does not show that the trial court made the proper inquiry at the termination proceeding, we remand the matter to the trial court for the limited purpose of making the inquiry and determining whether the child is an Indian child.

         I. The Trial Court Proceedings

         ¶ 4 In September 2015, the Montrose Department of Health and Human Services (Department) initiated a dependency and neglect proceeding after learning that the child's umbilical cord blood tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and marijuana.

         ¶ 5 The court awarded temporary legal custody of the child to the Department. And, based on the parents' admissions, the court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected and adopted treatment plans for mother and father.

         ¶ 6 Later, the Department moved to terminate the parent-child legal relationship between the child and the parents. The Department's motion did not disclose what efforts it had made to determine if the child is an Indian child, and the trial court did not inquire on the record whether the child is an Indian child. Even so, following a contested hearing at which it terminated ...


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