This topic is especially important for relative caretakers and foster parents who want to make sure that the children remain in their care and custody, or continue to have ongoing visitation if the children are returned to the parents’ care and custody.
1. Only parents, children, social workers and de facto parents are considered parties to a juvenile dependency case. In other words, they are the only ones who can appear in court, present evidence, and examine and cross examine witnesses.
2. If you are a relative caretaker or a foster parent, you may apply for de facto parent status. The California Supreme Court held that persons who serve as the child’s psychological parent for a significant period of time may acquire an interest in the companionship care custody, and management of the child and that such interest is a substantial one deserving legal protection. The court further held that people who qualify as de facto parents “should be permitted to participate as parties in juvenile court proceedings to assert and protect their own interest in the child. In re B.G. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 679.
3. The court may grant de facto standing to participate in disposition hearings and any hearing thereafter at which the status of a dependent child is at issue. California Rules of Court, rule 5.534(e). File your request as soon as possible.
4. It is a myth that de facto parent status cannot be granted while the parents are receiving family reunification services. Katzoff v. Sup. Ct. 54 cal.app.3rd 1079, 1083.
5. File a de facto parent request form, Judicial Council Form JV 295, 296 and 297. The most important is form 296, it contains the facts which support the request for de facto parent status. The form is deceptively simple. Generally, you will need to augment that form by adding declarations by the applicant, and additional witnesses. And, I recommend you include exhibits, such as picture and videos.
6. Also attach to your application, a memo of points and authorities so that you can make sure the parties and the court are clear on the concept and the law in California.
7. Some Counties in California are NOT de facto parent friendly. In other words, they argue against your application.
8. The de facto parent may:
a. Be present at all the hearings
b. Be represented by retained counsel
c. Present evidence
d. Cross examine witnesses.
9. De Facto parents are entitled to the same procedural rights as natural parents.
10. Court may order visitation for de facto parents after the child is placed out of the de facto parent’s care. In re Robin N. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1140.
If you have any further questions regarding de facto parent status, please give me a call. We offer free initial consultations.
Vincent W Davis
888 888 6582