De Facto Parent Information (JV-295)

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Why File for De Facto?

If you are granted de facto parent status, you will be able to:

  • Participate in juvenile dependency court hearings as a party.
  • Receive notice of any court hearings.
  • Present views and evidence to promote the best interests of the child in your care.
  • Participate in decisions regarding the child’s care and placement.

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How Do You Qualify?

A de facto parent is a person who has been found by the court to have “assumed, on a 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

California Rule of Court, Rule 5.502(10)

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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 court hearing
  • Be represented by retained counsel or, at the discretion of the court, by appointed counsel
  • Present evidence

California Rule of Court 5.534(e)

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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.

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Right to Discovery

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.  The de facto parent shall be able to have access to and inspect and copy only those juvenile court records authorized by the court.  See California Rules of Court, Rule 5.534(e).

A de facto parent’s right to see the other documents in the court file is governed by Welfare and Institutions Code § 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.

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How to Obtain De Facto Parent Status

In order to apply for de facto parent status, you must:

Step 1:  Complete the Forms

Regardless of which county the juvenile dependency case is in, you will need to complete and file JV-295, JV-296 and JV-297.  If you desire for your contact information (name, address, phone number) to remain confidential, please use JV-287 (see below section on "Confidentiality" before proceeding with filling out the forms).  Additionally, if your county clerk's office requires you to serve the de facto forms on the parties, you will need to fill out JV-510.  Please check your local county's rules regarding de facto service.

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 completed JV-295, JV-296, JV-297 and JV-510 Proof of Service forms to provide for mailing to all persons listed on your JV-510 Proof of Service.  PLUS make an extra 3 copies (just in case).

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 JV-510 form is stapled underneath your JV-295, JV-296, and JV-297 forms.

Step 4:  File the Forms (in person or by mail)

In person:  You can go to the court clerk's office and file all of your de facto forms in person.  Bring the ORIGINAL and at least 2 COPIES with you.  One of these copies will be your file-endorsed copy.

By mail:  Mail the ORIGINAL AND 2 COPIES of the stapled documents to the court address located at the top of your form.  Include a cover letter to the clerk. (Sample Clerk Cover Letter). Also include a SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE (with sufficient return postage) so that the clerk can return a filed-endorsed copy back to you. Make sure to keep a copy of all the documents for your files.

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Confidentiality

In order to keep contact information confidential, JV-287 may be filed along with the de facto forms.  Here is the JV-287 Confidential Information Fillable Form.  If you are using JV-287, do not fill out the top portions of the other forms you are filing that ask for your contact information.  You can write "Confidential - Form JV-287 filed" in the space where your contact info is supposed to be filled in.

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Why Should Your De Facto Parent Request be Granted?

No professional in the system who has responsibility for informing the court about the well-being, needs, and bests interests of the child spends as much time with the child as the caregiver. The child’s attorney may only see the child for a few minutes once every six months or so. Some children’s attorneys, despite rules of court to the contrary, never see the child. Others may send an investigator or social worker to see the child instead of personally meeting with the child. The child welfare worker may see the child only once a month. A CASA may see the child from two to four times a month but for only a few hours at a time. A foster family agency social worker may see the child as often as once a week but often the time spent interacting with the child is short. In contrast, the child’s caregiver spends significant periods of time caring for and interacting with the child on a daily basis. If the child is an infant or toddler, the caregiver may actually be spending all day, every day, with the child.

Consequently, the caregiver will ordinarily have more knowledge than any other person in the system about the child’s physical and emotional needs, whether that child has any special needs that must be met in order to maintain the child’s physical and/or emotional health, and the child’s personality and characteristics may that affect how that child’s needs can or should be met. Direct information from a person who actually knows the child in question can be invaluable to the juvenile court when deciding what is in the child’s best interests in any given juvenile court proceeding.

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How to Support Your De Facto Request with Case Law

Although there are no specific laws or state regulations that set out specific requirements for de facto parent status, there is case law that you can bring to the attention of the court in order to assist the judge in making an informed ruling on your de facto parent request.  "Because a court can only benefit from having all relevant information, a court should liberally grant de facto parent status." ( In re Patricia L. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 61, 67).  The following California appellate and supreme court decisions have set the precedent on the subject.

A Caregiver Who Serves as the Child's Psychological Parent is Entitled to De Facto Parent Status

  • In re B.G. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 679, 692-693
  • In re Kieshia E. (1993) 6 Cal.4th 68, 77
  • Christina K. v. Superior Court (1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 1463, 1469
  • In re Patricia L. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 61, 67

Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers are Generally Entitled to Standing as De Facto Parents, Absent Unusual Circumstances

  • In re Ashley P. (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 23
  • In re Vincent C. (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 1347, 1358
  • Christina K. v. Superior Court (1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 1463, 1467
  • Katzoff v. Superior Court (1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 1079, 1084
  • California Rules of Court, Rule 5.534(e)

There is No "Minimum" Amount of Time Required for a Caretaker to be Granted Standing as De Facto Parent

  • Christina K. v. Superior Court (1986) 184 Cal.App.4th 1463, 1465, 1468-9

De Facto Parent Status may be Granted at Disposition or at Any Time Thereafter

  • California Rules of Court, Rule 5.534(e)
  • In re Giovanni F. (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 594, 597, 602

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Additional De Facto Parent Information and Resources

For more information, please visit the California Courts De Facto Self-Help Center.  Also see the Judicial Council of California Form JV-299, De Facto Parent Pamphlet.

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