Local Dependency Rules of Court (By County)

Governing Laws in Dependency Court

There are three sources of state laws that govern juvenile dependency proceedings at your local courthouse: 1) California state laws; 2) California Rules of Court; and 3) local county rules.

California State Law and California Rules of Court:  Most of the state laws governing the dependency system are found in California Welfare and Institutions Code § 300, et seq. The California Rules of Court, also statewide, apply to proceedings in the California Superior Court including dependency proceedings and are adopted by the Judicial Council, which is the rule-making arm of the California court system.

Local County Rules of Court:  Each local county may also make local rules for its own government and the government of its officers not inconsistent with law or with the rules adopted and prescribed by the Judicial Council. When advocating for a child in foster care, it is important to be familiar with state law, the California Rules of Court, and the local rules created by your county court system.

Local County Rules of Court - Topics Relevant to Dependency

Local county rules address many areas of of law, including dependency proceedings.  These are five topics pertinent to juvenile dependency law that we cover on this page:

1)  Attorney Representation in Dependency Court

State law charges minors' counsel with the tremendous responsibility of representing foster children in the dependency legal system. For information on state laws that govern standards of representation and duties for minor's counsel, see Welfare and Institutions Code Section 317(e) and California Rule of Court 5.660. State law also allows foster youth to lodge a complaint about the performance of their attorney. In some California counties, a complaint concerning the performance of an attorney appointed to represent a minor may be lodged on the child’s behalf by a caretaker, relative, or a foster parent. For more information, see our The Role of Minor's Counsel.

2)  De Facto Parent Status

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.” De facto parents are able to participate in juvenile court as a party and to present evidence to promote the best interests of the child and help the court make informed decisions regarding the child’s care and placement.  For information on the California Rules of Court requirements for obtaining de facto parent status, see our De Facto Parent Information webpage.

3)  Children's Appearance in Court

Foster children and youth are entitled to be present at their court hearings and may address the court and participate in the hearings. If a child or youth is 10 years or older, the court must ask why s/he is not present and whether the child or youth was given notice of the hearing and had the opportunity to attend.  Welfare and Institutions Code section 349(c).  For more information, see our Information for Foster Youth webpage.

4)  Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are volunteers trained to act as first-hand observers of the individual needs of abused and neglected children in foster care. After completing at least 30 hours of training, CASAs are appointed by the court to a specific foster child. The CASA often serves as a source of information for the court about the child and the child's needs, advocates for the child's best interests in the courtroom, and acts as a "watchdog" for the child's needs while the child is in the system.  Local rules sometimes include CASA appointment procedures or rules governing access to documents or the court file.

5)  Welfare and Institutions Code Section 388 petitions (JV-180 - Request to Change Court Order)

Any parent, sibling, or other person having an interest in a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court may have their concerns heard by a judge (even when you are not a party and do not qualify for de facto status) by filing a 388 petition/JV-180.  A 388 petition/JV-180 Request to Change Court Order should be used only for important issues that need to be addressed immediately, circumstances have changed or there is new evidence that you can offer to the judge, and it is in the child’s best interests to modify a previous order. For more information, see our How To Request To Change A Court Order page.

Find these Local Rules for Your County

To check the local rules in your county of jurisdiction, click the name of your county below. If your county has local rules pertinent to any of the five areas listed above, we have provided the number of the local rule for you to reference.

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