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§5.05 De Facto Parent

A de facto parent is a person who assumes the role of parent by fulfilling a child’s physical and psychological needs for a lengthy period on a day-to-day basis. [CRC 5.502(10).] A de facto parent’s relationship with a child may have developed over time through daily care, affection, and concern for the child. [In re Vanessa Z. (1994) 23 CA4th 258, 261.] Grandparents, for example, who have cared for a child and assumed a parental role may have a significant but not legally recognized relationship with the child. [See In re Ashley P. (1998) 62 CA4th 23, 27–30.]

A de facto parent may appear at the disposition hearing or subsequent proceedings. The de facto parent may present evidence and be represented by retained or, at your discretion, appointed counsel. [CRC 5.534(e).] While de facto parents have “standing to participate as parties” [CRC 5.534(e)], their role is limited and they do not enjoy the same due process rights as parents. For example, de facto parents do not have an automatic right to receive the agency’s reports and other documents filed with the court and must petition the juvenile court for the right to inspect or copy the juvenile case file. [In re B.F. (2010) 190 CA4th 811, 817.]

A person requesting de facto parent status must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is entitled to that status. [See In re Jody R. (1990) 218 CA3d 1615, 1626, and forms JV-296, JV-297.] A person who is the cause of the dependency proceeding should not be declared a de facto parent. [In re Leticia S. (2001) 92 CA4th 378, 382.]

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© 2006 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of January 1, 2012