What You Need to Know About De Facto Parent Child Support Rights in California

Becoming a de facto parent allows one to be more involved in a child’s juvenile dependency case, but it doesn’t guarantee the same rights of a legal guardian. Here’s what you need to know about de facto parent child support rights.

An individual can be granted de facto parent status if they have met the physical and psychological needs of a child of juvenile dependency for a substantial amount of time. The granting of de facto status is decided by the juvenile dependency court and varies case by case. An individual who has been caring and providing for the child of juvenile dependency can apply for de facto parent status, which equips them with additional rights that they would normally not be entitled to.

Related: De Facto Parents and Juvenile Dependency

What Child Support Rights Do De Facto Parents Have?

It is important to note that a de facto parent does not have the same rights as a parent or guardian would. This is because a de facto parent does not possess legal custody of the child, like a parent or legal guardian does. However, having the status of a de facto parent does attribute an individual some rights in court and over the child that they would not normally have.

Here are some examples of rights that de facto parents do have:

1. The right to be present at hearings pertaining to the custody of the child

A de facto parent can listen in on the child’s custody hearings, which is crucial in deciding where the child will end up and what is the next best move for their wellbeing.

2. The right to be a part of the child’s disposition hearing and all subsequent hearings

The right to be a part of the child’s disposition hearing grants a de facto parent the ability to defend the child, and bring up any factors that may be relevant in deciding consequences for the child. For example, if a child is facing criminal charges in a disposition hearing, a de facto parent has the option to bring up their abusive parent. This parent had a substantial impact on raising the child and therefore influencing their actions, which may be relevant when trying to defend the charges against a juvenile dependent.

3. The right to be represented by a lawyer

A de facto parent can have the legal support of a lawyer, which could be very helpful when trying to defend themselves or the child in court.

4. The right to have their lawyer present evidence and cross-examine witnesses on their behalf

This is crucial in a de facto parent attempting to defend their place in the child’s life. Other witnesses and evidence can be used to demonstrate how much they are helping the child. Additionally, this right to evidence and witnesses can aid in testifying for the child and their wellbeing.

These rights grant de facto parents increased involvement in the child’s juvenile dependency case. A de facto parent can use their legal rights in court to defend themselves, the child, or support the protection of the child’s safety. This is why the rights of a de facto parent are invaluable compared to an individual who has not been granted de facto status, as they do not have the same legal power to fight for the child. A de facto parent can learn more about their rights here.

What Rights Are Not Entitled to De Facto Parents?

De Facto parents do not have the same rights and responsibilities as a parent or guardian, because they do not have legal custody of the child. Thus, there are specific rights that a de facto parent is not entitled to. Here are some rights that are restricted from de facto parents.

  • De facto-status parents do not have the right to reunification services.
  • De facto-status parents do not have the right to custody.
  • De facto-status parents do not have the right to visitation.

In addition to the rights listed above, it should be understood that any other rights entitled to legal guardians and not otherwise specifically stated to de facto status parents do not apply for de facto status parents. For example, inheritance is not applicable to de facto-status parents and is only permitted between a child and their legal guardian.

Related: Legal Guardianship in California: The Basics

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