While a de facto parent is not the same as a biological parent, they do have rights and privileges related to the child in their care. There is no law that states exactly what a de facto parent needs to be; typically, judges make this decision based on other court cases. Get the answers to three common questions on the de facto parent designation.
Who Can Become a De Facto Parent?
Individuals who have been caring for a dependent of the juvenile court on a consistent basis may become a de facto parent if they meet the following qualifications:
The child you’re caring for is a dependent of the juvenile court.
You have been caring for the child every day.
You have been acting as the child’s parent.
You have met the child’s needs for food, shelter, clothing, care, and affection.
What Are My Rights as a De Facto Parent?
While a de facto parent is not the same as a biological parent, de facto parents still have certain rights in relation to the child they’re caring for.
De facto parents have the right to:
Be present at dependency proceedings.
Be represented by a lawyer.
Present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
Participate as a party in the deposition hearing and any additional hearings.
De facto parents do not have the right to:
Attorney fees. In some cases, the judge may give you an attorney, and the court will pay the fees.
A rehearing if you do not agree with the judge’s decision.
How Can I Become a De Facto Parent?
If you meet the criteria listed above, you may apply to become a de facto parent. Individuals who wish to apply for de facto parent status should fill out the appropriate paperwork with their state government.
On the forms, you’ll need to explain why you should become the child’s de facto parent, how long you have cared for the child, what you do for the child, what you know about the child’s special needs, and how you can meet the child’s needs. It’s also a good idea to attach letters from people who know you and the child, like teachers, therapists, etc.
After filling out the paperwork, the juvenile court will decide if you are a de facto parent, and the judge will decide if you can help the court understand what’s best for the child.
Navigate the Legal Process with a Qualified Attorney
Family law matters can be complex and emotionally taxing. At the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, we exclusively practice family law, which means our clients receive knowledgeable, effective representation. We’re extremely familiar with the many laws and procedures that govern your family matter.
If you need assistance with family law matters, contact the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C. at (916) 794-4576 to consult with a qualified attorney.