any individual other than a legal parent or legal guardian. If no
parent is present, the petition will likely be sustained as pled and the
court will declare the child a dependent, meaning the child is
formally within the jurisdiction of the court, and under the formal
supervision of the court and child welfare services.56 The child’s
grandmother, like all non-parent caretakers who are not considered
legal parents and do not have standing, would have no opportunity to
challenge the truth of the petition and no right to appeal the court’s
Two to three months later, at the dispositional hearing, the
child’s grandmother finally has an opportunity to participate in the
proceedings. At the dispositional hearing the court decides the proper
disposition of the child—whether the child is released or placed
under court supervision, visitation orders, family reunification
services, or any other necessary protective orders.58 The child’s
grandmother, like all non-parent caretakers, will be allowed to
participate in this hearing only if she overcomes the obstacles to
establishing de facto parent status,59 which requires her to prove de
completed by the disposition hearing unless the relative’s history of family
violence makes notice inappropriate).
55 See CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 316 (West 2013).
56 See CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 356 (West 2013) (“After hearing the evidence,
the court shall make a finding . . . whether or not the minor is a person described
by Section 300 and the specific subdivisions of Section 300 under which the
petition is sustained.”).
57 See generally In re Miguel E., 15 Cal. Rptr. 3d 530, 539 (Ct. App. 2004)
(finding that grandparents do not have standing to appeal decisions by the
dependency courts as de facto parents or as relatives).
58 See CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 358 (West 2013).
59 See CAL. RULES OF COURT R. 5.502(10) (defining de facto parent as “a person
who has been found by the court to have assumed, on a day-to-day basis, the role
of parent, fulfilling the child’s physical and psychological needs for care and
affection, and who has assumed that role for a substantial period”); In re Merrick
V., 19 Cal. Rptr. 3d 490, 505 (Ct. App. 2004); In re Leticia S., 111 Cal. Rptr. 2d
810, 813 (Ct. App. 2001); In re Matthew P., 84 Cal. Rptr. 2d 269, 273-74 (Ct. App.
1999) (outlining the rights of de facto parents); cf. In re Patricia L., 11 Cal. Rptr.
2d 631, 634 (Ct. App. 1992) (describing that factors considered in granting de
facto status are: the child’s psychological bond to the adult; adult’s assumption of
the day-to-day parental role; adult’s possession of unique information about the