People in the Int. of A-J.A.B. v. H.J.B.
2023 CO 48. No. 22SC670. Indian Child Welfare Act—Termination of Parental Rights—Dependency and Neglect—Notice Requirements—Due Diligence—Statutory Interpretation.
September 11, 2023
In this case, the Supreme Court considered what constitutes due diligence under CRS § 19-1-126(3), when a child that is the subject of a dependency and neglect case may be an Indian child as that term is defined in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. 25 USC § 1903(4). The Court concluded that due diligence in this context is a concept that logically must be flexible enough to allow a juvenile court to examine the thoroughness of a petitioning party’s investigation into a general claim of Indian heritage based on the specific circumstances of the claim before it.
To that end, due diligence under § 19-1-126(3) requires a petitioning party to earnestly endeavor to investigate the basis for a parent or other participant’s assertion that a child may be an Indian child, to contact those family members or others who are specifically identified as having knowledge regarding that assertion of general Indian heritage, and to learn whether additional information exists that will help the court determine whether there is reason to know that the child is an Indian child.
Applying this framework, the Court affirms the court of appeals’ division, but on different grounds.