- participate in juvenile court as a party.
- present views and evidence to promote the best interests of the child in their care.
- participate in decisions regarding the child’s care and placement.
How Do You Qualify?
A de facto parent is a person who has been found by the court to have “assumed, on day-to-day basis, the role of the parent, fulfilling both the child’s physical and psychological need for care and affection, and who has assumed that role for a substantial period.”
Relevant factors include:
- Whether the child has psychologically bonded with the applicant
- Whether the applicant has acted as a parent on a day to day basis for a substantial amount of time. (Note: There is no clear requirement of a minimum amount of time, however adoption practices have established a four month period as a guide for establishing parental bonds that should not be disrupted
- Whether the applicant has information about the child that the other parties in the case cannot provide
- Whether the applicant has regularly attended juvenile court hearings
Rights of De Facto Parents
Upon a sufficient showing the court may recognize the child’s present or previous custodians as de facto parents and grant standing to participate as parties in disposition hearings and any hearing thereafter at which the status of the dependent child is at issue.
The de facto parent may:
- Be present at the hearing
- Be represented by retained counsel or, at the discretion of the court, by appointed counsel
- Present evidence
Appointment of an Attorney
Upon granting de facto parent status, the court may, but is not required by law to, appoint an attorney to represent the de facto parent. No right to the appointment of counsel exists for the bringing of the application. If you cannot afford an attorney, ask the court to consider appointing one for you.
Once a person has been granted de Facto parent status, they have the right to present and also see evidence. Discovery is the legal right to see the reports and documents that have been filed with the court, i.e., to discover what is in the court’s file. A de facto parent’s right to see the other documents in the court file is governed by WIC § 827 which directs the court to make such discovery orders pursuant to that section as are necessary and appropriate. The court may allow you to have full or limited access to the court file contents, as deemed necessary for meaningful participation in the case.
How to Obtain De Facto Status
In order to apply for de facto status, There are the following four steps:
Step 1: Complete the Forms
1. JV-295 de facto Parent Request Form
2. JV-296 de facto Parent Statement Form
NOTE: You can use a legal device called a “declaration” to provide the court with information from third parties that may help support your de facto parent status request. A declaration is a written statement, sworn to be the truth under penalty of perjury by any person who has direct knowledge about your relationship with the child. Form MC-030 may be used to make a written declaration. If you have letters or declarations from third parties that you are attaching to your JV-296 “De Facto Parent Statement” form, be sure and label each attachment page “Attachment to JV-296, [Date, Case Number].”
3. JV-297 de facto Parent Order
4. JV-510 Proof of Service Form
ATTENTION: Some counties in California do not require De Facto Parent Status applicants to file the JV- 510 and serve copies of the request forms on all the parties to the case. Some counties have local rules directing the clerk of their Juvenile Court to serve copies of the De Facto Parent request forms on all the parties to the case, and some counties have a courtesy policy and the clerk will serve the parties for you. Call your local Court Clerk’s Office for more information about the policies in your county. Visit http://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm to find contact information for your local Clerk’s Office.
Step 2: Make copies
Make sufficient copies of your JV-295, JV-296, and JV-297 forms and “JV-510 Proof of Service” forms to provide for mailing to all persons listed on your JV-510 “Proof of Service”, PLUS 3 EXTRA COPIES.
Step 3: Prepare Forms
With each set of copies, staple “JV-510 Proof of Service” form to the back of the JV-295, JV-296, and JV-297 forms. Make sure the “Proof of Service” form is stapled underneath your JV-295, JV-296, and JV-297 forms.
Step 4: Mail the Forms
Mail the ORIGINAL AND 2 COPIES of the stapled documents to the court address located at the top of your form. Include the cover letter to the clerk. (Sample Clerk Cover Letter). Include a SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE so that the clerk can return a filed-endorsed copy back to you. Make sure to keep a copy of all the documents for yourself.
In order to keep contact information confidential, JV-287 may be used with JV-295.
- JV-287 Confidential Information Fillable Form. You may use Form JV-287 in order to keep confidential any contact information listed on the JV-285.
Sample Supporting Brief
In order to support your application for De Facto Parent Status, you can print out the following brief and attach it to your application.
- Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Application for De Facto Parent Status (6-pg pdf)
ATTENTION: Since there are no specific laws or state regulations that set out specific requirements for de facto parent status, this document contains the case law which can assist the judge with making an informed ruling on a de facto parent request.
For more De Facto Parent Information and Resources, please visit the California Courts De Facto Self-Help Center.
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