De Facto Parent Status

At the Law Office of David P Schwarz we have dealt with many de facto parent status court cases in juvenile dependency hearings. Please contact our office at 949 735 9266 or via the web. We can also be reached by email at

A Juvenile dependency lawyer will be able to get their client de facto parent status. That is a person who is the current or recent caretaker of a child and who has assumed the role of a parent to the child, fulfilling the child's physical and psychological needs for care and affection on a daily basis. The terms "psychological parent" and "de facto parent" are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. The de facto parent must be an adult.

To qualify as a de facto parent, the applicant need not be the child's current or immediately preceding custodian. Thus, an individual who has assumed the parental role for the child in the past may be eligible to be a de facto parent.

A juvenile dependency attorney will explain to their client that "a nonparent who commits sexual or other serious physical abuse upon a child in his or her charge" can be deemed to have abandoned the parental role. "When a juvenile court has found that the nonparent committed such abuse, and has therefore deemed it necessary to make the victim a dependent of the court, the abuser is barred from intervening in the same proceeding under the de facto parenthood doctrine."

At the Orange County Law Office of David P Schwarz we will represent the best interest of our client to the Court. Even when there are open questions regarding situations in which a child may be injured because of the negligence of a de facto parent-caretaker, and whether such mistreatment or injury could become a basis to revoke de facto parent status. Situations involving an injury to a child by a sibling or other child (or even by a dog bite) raise questions about a caretaker's negligence or recklessness. These would have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis to determine if the degree of caretaker negligence rose to the level of abandoning the parental role or was the cause of a child becoming a dependent of the court.

A juvenile dependency lawyer will advise you that although applications for de facto parent status are perhaps most frequently filed on behalf of the child's foster parent or parents, any adult who qualifies under In re B. G. and its progeny may be designated a de facto parent, including a child's adult sibling.

The Rules of Court require the applicant to have cared for the child for a substantial period of time. To be de facto parent the person must have assumed the role of parent for a substantial period of time. It is not clear what amount of time qualifies as a "substantial period" of time.

At the Orange County Law Office of David P Schwarz we have practiced in the area of Juvenile dependency for many years and seen our clients appointed as “de facto” parents on numerous occasions. Please contact our office at 949 735 9266 or via the web. We can also be reached by email at

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