Montana Title 42. Adoption § 42-2-230. Responsibility of each party to protect interests--putative fathers--fraud no defense

(1) The legislature finds no practical way to remove all risk of fraud or misrepresentation in adoption proceedings and has provided protection of a putative father's rights. In balancing the rights and interests of the state and of all parties affected by fraud, specifically the child, the adoptive parents, and the putative father, the legislature determines that the putative father is in the best position to prevent or ameliorate the effects of fraud and that, therefore, the burden of establishing fraud against the putative father by clear and convincing evidence must be born by the putative father.

(2) Each parent of a child conceived or born outside of marriage to the other parent is responsible for that parent's own actions and assertion of their parental rights notwithstanding any action, statement, or omission of the other parent or third parties.

(3) A person injured by fraudulent representations or actions in connection with an adoption is entitled to pursue civil or criminal penalties. A fraudulent representation is not a defense for failure to comply with the requirements of the putative father registry and is not a basis for dismissal of a petition for adoption, vacation of an adoption decree, or an automatic grant of custody to the injured party.

(4) A putative father who resides in another state may contest an adoption prior to issuance of a decree of adoption and may assert the putative father's interest in the child. If the adoption is contested, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing to determine if:

(a) the putative father resides and has resided in another state where the unmarried mother lived or resided either at the time of conception or through a portion of the pregnancy;

(b) the mother left that state, concealing the location from the putative father regarding where the mother could be contacted or located;

(c) the father has, through every reasonable means, attempted to locate the mother but has been unable to do so;  and

(d) the putative father has complied with the requirements of the state where the mother previously resided or was located in order to protect and preserve the putative father's parental interest and rights concerning the child in cases of adoption.

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