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§5.15 Placement With Noncustodial Parent

If you order a dependent child to be removed from the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent requests custody, you must place the child with the noncustodial parent unless you find by clear and convincing evidence that the placement would be detrimental to the child’s safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being. [WIC §361.2(a), (e)(1); In re Marquis D. (1995) 38 CA4th 1813, 1829.]

You may award full custody to the noncustodial parent and terminate jurisdiction even if the former custodial parent alleges inadequate reunification services. [In re Janee W. (2006) 140 CA4th 1444, 1455.] If a nonoffending noncustodial parent requests custody, you must make a finding of detriment if you do not award custody to that parent. [In re John M. (2006) 141 CA4th 1564, 1569.]

You must first determine whether there is detriment if the child is temporarily placed in the physical custody of the nonoffending parent.  If there is no detriment, you may order temporary placement.  Then you must determine whether there is need for ongoing jurisdiction.  If there is no such need, you may grant the nonoffending parent sole legal and physical custody.  If there is such need, you continue jurisdiction. [In re Karla C. (2010) 186 CA4th 1236, 1245–1246.]


If you place the child with the noncustodial parent, you may:

  • Award physical and legal custody to that parent and terminate dependency [WIC §361.2(b)(1); CRC 5.695(a)(7)(A), 5.620(c); see form JV-364]; or
  • Award custody to that parent, subject to the juvenile court’s jurisdiction, taking into account any concerns of the child’s current caregiver, and order the social worker to conduct a home visit within three months and file a report with the court (“Adam’s Law”) [WIC §361.2(b)(2); CRC 5.695(a)(7)(B)]; or
  • Award custody to that parent, subject to the juvenile court’s supervision, and order reunification services for one or both parents [WIC §361.2(b)(3); CRC 5.695(a)(7)(B)]; the noncustodial parent must seek custody and you must determine that reunification services are appropriate [R.S. v Superior Court (2007) 154 CA4th 1262, 1271]; and
  • Order visitation for the parent from whose home the child was removed [see WIC §§361.2(b)(1), 362.1; CRC 5.700(a)].

If you declare the child a dependent and place the child in the custody of a parent subject to the supervision of a social worker, family maintenance services pursuant to WIC §362 are at issue but not reunification services pursuant to WIC §361.5. A noncustodial parent is not entitled to reunification services in these circumstances, even if the child was previously in the custody of both parents. [In re Pedro Z. (2010) 190 CA4th 12, 20.]

The social worker must inform any caregiver that he or she may provide input about placement of the child with the noncustodial parent. The caregiver’s completed information form [see form JV-290] must be attached to the social worker’s report or returned to the court for your review before the child is placed with the noncustodial parent. [WIC §366.23; CRC 5.534(n).]

If you are awarding custody to the nonoffending noncustodial parent, you may not terminate jurisdiction without first analyzing whether ongoing supervision is necessary. [In re Austin P. (2004) 118 CA4th 1124, 1134-1135.]

REFERENCE >> For a form of order for placement with a noncustodial parent, see form JV-420.


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