Any minor child who has been abused, neglected, abandoned, or otherwise comes within the description of Welf &IC Section 300 may be subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile dependency court. In general, the dependency court has sole and superior jurisdiction over all issues involving the child’s parentage and custody once a dependency petition is filed and retains it until the case is dismissed or jurisdiction is terminated. Welf & IC Section 304; Cal Rules of Ct 5.510(c).
The juvenile court has a duty to inquire about and determine parentage of each dependent child. Welf& IC Section 316.2. Cal Rules of Court 5.635(a). The rules used to determine parentage in dependency court are to comport with the UPA. Parentage presumptions are driven by the state’s interest in preserving the integrity of the family and legitimate concerns for the welfare of the child. In re Nicholas H. (2002) 28 CA4th 56, 65. Parentage determinations do not depend on the forum in which parent issues are raised; otherwise, a child could end up with different parents depending on whether the issues were adjudicated in family, probate, or dependency court. See Librers v. Black (2005) 129 CA4th 114, 123. Therefore, if the juvenile court establishes parentage its finding can be used to establish custody in the family law court after the juvenile court no longer has jurisdiction or to establish child support.
Because dependency courts afford standing and reunification services to presumed parents, application of the statutory parentage presumptions is a frequent issue in dependency courts.
Contact an Orange County Dependency Attorney today for help.