It is not only biological parents who can have a legal relationship with their children. If you are a nonbiological parent of a child or the partner or spouse of one of the child’s biological parents, California law may recognize your parental rights. Dependency court, which has jurisdiction over questions of paternity or parentage, may categorize you as either an alleged parent or a presumed parent.
Presumed parents have more rights than alleged parents do with regards to custody, visitation and reunification services. However, if you are an alleged parent it may be possible to become a presumed parent through the legal process.
The court may categorize you as a presumed parent in one of two situations. If you can provide evidence that you have raised the child as your own and acted as a parent to him or her, the law may consider you a presumed parent.
You may also be a presumed parent if you can produce a legal document recognizing you as a parent. One example is a family court order establishing the parental relationship between you and the child. The court will also likely recognize you as a presumed parent if your name appears on the child’s birth certificate.
You are typically an alleged parent if someone claims to the court that you are the parent of a child but no one produces evidence of it in the form of legal documentation or genetic test results. You may go to a hearing yourself and tell the court that you are a parent to the child. However, it is also possible for others, specifically the biological mother, to tell the court that you are the child’s parent.
While a child can only have two biological parents, a child’s legal parents may exceed that number. As a stepparent or a same-sex spouse or partner of a child’s biological parent, you are a possible candidate.