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.
County District Court No. 15JV81 Honorable David S. Westfall,
Williams, County Attorney, Julie R. Andress, Assistant County
Attorney, Montrose, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee
J. Huffman, Guardian Ad Litem
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
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
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 ...