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Minnesota Statutes Regarding Guardians ad Litem in Juvenile Court Matters
Subd. 5. Guardian ad litem.
(a) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of the minor when it appears, at any stage of the proceedings, that the minor is without a parent or guardian, or that the minor's parent is a minor or incompetent, or that the parent or guardian is indifferent or hostile to the minor's interests, and in every proceeding alleging a child's need for protection or services under section 260C.007, subdivision 6, except proceedings where the sole allegation is that the child is a runaway or habitual truant. In any other case the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of the minor when the court feels that such an appointment is desirable. The court shall appoint the guardian ad litem on its own motion or in the manner provided for the appointment of a guardian ad litem in the district court. The court may appoint separate counsel for the guardian ad litem if necessary.
(b) A guardian ad litem shall carry out the following responsibilities:
- (1) conduct an independent investigation to determine the facts relevant to the situation of the child and the family, which must include, unless specifically excluded by the court, reviewing relevant documents; meeting with and observing the child in the home setting and considering the child's wishes, as appropriate; and interviewing parents, caregivers, and others with knowledge relevant to the case;
- (2) advocate for the child's best interests by participating in appropriate aspects of the case and advocating for appropriate community services when necessary;
- (3) maintain the confidentiality of information related to a case, with the exception of sharing information as permitted by law to promote cooperative solutions that are in the best interests of the child;
- (4) monitor the child's best interests throughout the judicial proceeding; and
- (5) present written reports on the child's best interests that include conclusions and recommendations and the facts upon which they are based.
(c) Except in cases where the child is alleged to have been abused or neglected, the court may waive the appointment of a guardian ad litem pursuant to clause (a), whenever counsel has been appointed pursuant to subdivision 2 or is retained otherwise, and the court is satisfied that the interests of the minor are protected.
(d) In appointing a guardian ad litem pursuant to clause (a), the court shall not appoint the party, or any agent or employee thereof, filing a petition pursuant to section 260C.141.
(e) The following factors shall be considered when appointing a guardian ad litem in a case involving an Indian or minority child:
- (1) whether a person is available who is the same racial or ethnic heritage as the child or, if that is not possible;
- (2) whether a person is available who knows and appreciates the child's racial or ethnic heritage.
(f) The court shall require a background study for each guardian ad litem as provided under section 518.165. The court shall have access to data collected pursuant to section 245C.32 for purposes of the background study.
Subd. 2. Child in need of protection services. The paramount consideration in all proceedings concerning a child alleged or found to be in need of protection or services is the health, safety, and best interests of the child. In proceedings involving an American Indian child, as defined in section 260.755, subdivision 8, the best interests of the child must be determined consistent with sections 260.751 to 260.835 and the Indian Child Welfare Act, United States Code, title 25, sections 1901 to 1923. The purpose of the laws relating to juvenile courts is to secure for each child alleged or adjudicated in need of protection or services and under the jurisdiction of the court, the care and guidance, preferably in the child's own home, as will best serve the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical welfare of the child; to provide judicial procedures which protect the welfare of the child; to preserve and strengthen the child's family ties whenever possible and in the child's best interests, removing the child from the custody of parents only when the child's welfare or safety cannot be adequately safeguarded without removal; and, when removal from the child's own family is necessary and in the child's best interests, to secure for the child custody, care and discipline as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by the parents.
Subd. 3. Permanency and termination of parental rights. The purpose of the laws relating to permanency and termination of parental rights is to ensure that:
(1) when required and appropriate, reasonable efforts have been made by the social services agency to reunite the child with the child's parents in a home that is safe and permanent; and
(2) if placement with the parents is not reasonably foreseeable, to secure for the child a safe and permanent placement, preferably with adoptive parents or a fit and willing relative through transfer of permanent legal and physical custody to that relative.
Nothing in this section requires reasonable efforts to prevent placement or to reunify the child with the parent or guardian to be made in circumstances where the court has determined that the child has been subjected to egregious harm, when the child is an abandoned infant, the parent has involuntarily lost custody of another child through a proceeding under section 260C.201, subdivision 11, or similar law of another state, the parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been involuntarily terminated, or the court has determined that reasonable efforts or further reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent or guardian would be futile.
The paramount consideration in all proceedings for permanent placement of the child under section 260C.201, subdivision 11, or the termination of parental rights is the best interests of the child. In proceedings involving an American Indian child, as defined in section 260.755, subdivision 8, the best interests of the child must be determined consistent with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, United States Code, title 25, section 1901, et seq.
Subd. 3. Case plan. "Case plan" means any plan for the delivery of services to a child and parent or guardian, or, when reunification is not required, the child alone, that is developed according to the requirements of section 245.4871, subdivision 19 or 21; 245.492, subdivision 16;256V.092; 260C.212, subdivision 1; or 626.566, subdivision 10.
Subd. 4. Child. "Child" means an individual under 18 years of age.
Subd. 5. Child abuse. "Child abuse" means an act that involves a minor victim and that constitutes a violation of section 609.221, 609.222, 609.223, 609-224, 609.2242, 609.322, 609.324, 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, 609.345, 609.377, 609.378, 617.246, or an act committed in another state that involves a minor victim and would constitute a violation of one of these sections if committed in this state.
Subd. 6. Child in need of protection or services. "Child in need of protection or services" means a child who is in need of protection or services because the child:
(1) is abandoned or without parent, guardian, or custodian;
(2)(i) has been a victim of physical or sexual abuse, (ii) resides with or has resided with a victim of domestic child abuse as defined in subdivision 5, (iii) resides with or would reside with a perpetrator of domestic child abuse or child abuse as defined in subdivision 5, or (iv) is a victim of emotional maltreatment as defined in subdivision 8;
(3) is without necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, or other required care for the child's physical or mental health or morals because the child's parent, guardian, or custodian is unable or unwilling to provide that care;
(4) is without the special care made necessary by a physical, mental, or emotional condition because the child's parent, guardian, or custodian is unable or unwilling to provide that care, including a child in voluntary placement due solely to the child's developmental disability or emotional disturbance;
(5) is medically neglected, which includes, but is not limited to, the withholding of medically indicated treatment from a disabled infant with a life-threatening condition. The term "withholding of medically indicated treatment" means the failure to respond to the infant's life-threatening conditions by providing treatment, including appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication which, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment, will be most likely to be effective in ameliorating or correcting all conditions, except that the term does not include the failure to provide treatment other than appropriate nutrition, hydration, or medication to an infant when, in the treating physician's or physicians' reasonable medical judgment:
- (i) the infant is chronically and irreversibly comatose;
- (ii) the provision of the treatment would merely prolong dying, not be effective in ameliorating or correcting all of the infant's life-threatening conditions, or otherwise be futile in terms of the survival of the infant; or
- (iii) the provision of the treatment would be virtually futile in terms of the survival of the infant and the treatment itself under the circumstances would be inhumane;
(6) is one whose parent, guardian, or other custodian for good cause desires to be relieved of the child's care and custody, including a child in placement according to voluntary release by the parent under section 260C.212, subdivision 8;
(7) has been placed for adoption or care in violation of law;
(8) is without proper parental care because of the emotional, mental, or physical disability, or state of immaturity of the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian;
(9) is one whose behavior, condition, or environment is such as to be injurious or dangerous to the child or others. An injurious or dangerous environment may include, but is not limited to, the exposure of a child to criminal activity in the child's home;
(10) is experiencing growth delays, which may be referred to as failure to thrive, that have been diagnosed by a physician and are due to parental neglect;
(11) has engaged in prostitution as defined in section 609.321, subdivision 9;
(12) has committed a delinquent act or a juvenile petty offense before becoming ten years old;
(13) is a runaway;
(14) is a habitual truant;
(15) has been found incompetent to proceed or has been found not guilty by reason of mental illness or mental deficiency in connection with a delinquency proceeding, a certification under section 260B.125, an extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution, or a proceeding involving a juvenile petty offense; or
(16) has been found by the court to have committed domestic abuse perpetrated by a minor under Laws 1997, chapter 239, article 10, sections 2 to 26, has been ordered excluded from the child's parent's home by an order for protection/minor respondent, and the parent or guardian is either unwilling or unable to provide an alternative safe living arrangement for the child.
Subd. 8. Compelling reasons. "Compelling reasons" means an individualized determination by the responsible social services agency, which is approved by the court, related to a request by the agency not to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights or transfer permanent legal and physical custody of a child to the child's relative or former noncustodial parent under section 260C.301, subdivision 3.
Subd. 9. Court. "Court" means juvenile court unless otherwise specified in this section.
Subd. 10. Custodian. "Custodian" means any person who is under a legal obligation to provide care and support for a minor or who is in fact providing care and support for a minor. This subdivision does not impose upon persons who are not otherwise legally responsible for providing a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care a duty to provide that care. For an Indian child, custodian means any Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody, and control has been transferred by the parent of the child, as provided in section 260.755, subdivision 10.
Subd. 11. Delinquent child. "Delinquent child" means a child:
(1) who has violated any state or local law, except as provided in section 260B.225, subdivision 1, and except for juvenile offenders as described in subdivisions 19 and 28; or
(2) who has violated a federal law or a law of another state and whose case has been referred to the juvenile court if the violation would be an act of delinquency if committed in this state or a crime or offense if committed by an adult.
Subd. 13. Domestic child abuse. "Domestic child abuse" means:
(1) any physical injury to a minor family or household member inflicted by an adult family or household member other than by accidental means; or
(2) subjection of a minor family or household member by an adult family or household member to any act which constitutes a violation of sections 609.321 to 609.324, 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, 609.345, or 617.346.
Subd. 14. Egregious harm. "Egregious harm" means the infliction of bodily harm to a child or neglect of a child which demonstrates a grossly inadequate ability to provide minimally adequate parental care. The egregious harm need not have occurred in the state or in the county where a termination of parental rights action is otherwise properly venued. Egregious harm includes, but is not limited to:
(1) conduct towards a child that constitutes a violation of sections 609.185 to 609.21, 609.222, subdivision 2, 609.223, or any other similar law of any other state;
(2) the infliction of "substantial bodily harm" to a child, as defined in section 609.02, subdivision 7a;
(3) conduct towards a child that constitutes felony malicious punishment of a child under section 609.377;
(4) conduct towards a child that constitutes felony unreasonable restraint of a child under section 609.255, subdivision 3;
(5) conduct towards a child that constitutes felony neglect or endangerment of a child under section 609.378;
(6) conduct towards a child that constitutes assault under section 609.221, 609.222, or 609.223;
(7) conduct towards a child that constitutes solicitation, inducement, or promotion of, or receiving profit derived from prostitution under section 609.322;
(8) conduct towards a child that constitutes murder or voluntary manslaughter as defined by United States Code, title 18, section 1111(a) or 1112(a);
(9) conduct towards a child that constitutes aiding or abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit a murder or voluntary manslaughter that constitutes a violation of United States Code, title 18, section 1111(a) or 1112(a); or
(10) conduct toward a child that constitutes criminal sexual conduct under sections 609.342 to 609.345
Subd. 15. Emotional maltreatment. "Emotional maltreatment" means the consistent, deliberate infliction of mental harm on a child by a person responsible for the child's care, that has an observable, sustained, and adverse effect on the child's physical, mental, or emotional development. "Emotional maltreatment" does not include reasonable training or discipline administered by the person responsible for the child's care or the reasonable exercise of authority by that person.
Subd. 16. Emotionally disturbed. "Emotionally disturbed" means emotional disturbance as described in section 245.4871, subdivision 15.
Subd. 17. Family or household members. "Family or household members" means spouses, former spouses, parents and children, persons related by blood, and persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time.
Subd. 18. Foster care. "Foster care" means 24 hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardian and for whom a responsible social services agency has placement and care responsibility. "Foster care" includes, but is not limited to, placement in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities not excluded in this subdivision, child care institutions, and proadoptive homes. A child is in foster care under this definition regardless of whether the facility is licensed and payments are made for the cost of care. Nothing in this definition creates any authority to place a child in a home or facility that is required to be licensed which is not licensed. "Foster care" does not include placement in any of the following facilities: hospitals, in-patient chemical dependency treatment facilities, facilities that are primarily for delinquent children, any corrections facility or program within a particular correction's facility not meeting requirements for Title IV-E facilities as determined by the commissioner, facilities to which a child is committed under the provision of chapter 253B, forestry camps, or jails.
Subd. 19. Habitual truant. "Habitual truant" means a child under the age of 16 years who is absent from attendance at school without lawful excuse for seven school days if the child is in elementary school or for one or more class periods on seven school days if the child is in middle school, junior high school, or high school, or a child who is 16 or 17 years of age who is absent from attendance at school without lawful excuse for one or more class periods on seven school days and who has not lawfully withdrawn from school under section 120A.22, subdivision 8.
Subd. 22. Legal custody. "Legal custody" means the right to the care, custody, and control of a child who has been taken from a parent by the court in accordance with the provisions of section 260C.201 or 260C.317. The expenses of legal custody are paid in accordance with the provisions of section 206C.331.
Subd. 23. Minor. "Minor" means an individual under 18 years of age.
Subd. 25. Parent. "Parent" means the birth or adoptive parent of a minor. For an Indian child, parent includes any Indian person who has adopted a child by tribal law or custom, as provided in section 260.755, subdivision 14.
Subd. 26. Person. "Person" includes any individual, association, corporation, partnership, and the state or any of its political subdivisions, departments, or agencies.
Subd. 27. Relative. "Relative" means a person related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, or an individual who is an important friend with whom the child has resided or had significant contact. For an Indian child, relative includes members of the extended family as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's tribe or, in the absence of law or custom, nieces, nephews, or first or second cousins, as provided in the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, United States Code, title 25, section 1903.
Subd. 28. Runaway. "Runaway" means an unmarried child under the age of 18 years who is absent from the home of a parent or other lawful placement without the consent of the parent, guardian, or lawful custodian.