In California, only a California Juvenile Court can decide if an individual qualifies as a De Facto Parent.
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California De Facto Parent
A California de facto parent is a person who is the current or recent caretaker of a child and who has been found by the court to have assumed, on a day-to-day basis, the role of a parent to the child. This means that the person has been fulfilling the child’s physical and psychological needs for care and affection for a substantial period of time.
A person who seeks de facto parent status has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence (in other words, proving that it is more probable than not) that he or she meets the criteria for receiving such status.
Whether a person is entitled to receive California De Facto Parent status depends on the individual and on the unique circumstances of each case.
Some things to remember about a California De Facto Parent is:
- The status of de facto parent does not give a person the same rights and responsibilities as a parent or guardian.
- De facto parents can participate as parties in disposition hearings and any later hearings.
- De facto parents can be represented by a lawyer, and can present evidence.
- De facto parents do not have an absolute right to reunification services, custody, or visitation.
If you have been taking care of a child who has been declared a dependent of a California Juvenile Court, you may be able to apply for and become a California De Facto Parent.
De Facto Parent Eligibility
To become a California De Facto Parent, you will need to show:
- The child is a dependent of a California Juvenile Court;
- You are or have been taking care of the child every day;
- You have been acting as the child’s parent;
- You are or have met the child’s needs for food, shelter, and clothing; and,
- You have also met the child’s needs for care and affection.
Factors the Court Considers for De Facto Parent Status
Some of the factors a judge will consider include, are:
- the care you are giving or have given to the child;
- how long you have been caring for the child; and,
- if you can present facts to help the court understand what is best for the child.
Rights of a De Facto Parent
If a judge finds you are a De Facto Parent, you will have the following rights:
- To be present at any juvenile dependency proceedings;
- To be represented by an attorney;
- To present evidence and cross-examine witnesses; and,
- To participate as a party in any other hearing including the juvenile disposition hearing.
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