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Participants in Dependency Cases

Participants in Dependency Cases

In Juvenile Dependency Court, you will find a:

  • Judge: The Judge decides what care, treatment and guidance the minor will get.
  • Bailiff: The Bailiff keeps order in the court during the hearings.
  • Clerk: The Clerk writes a summary of what happened in court and keeps the court files.
  • Court reporter: The court reporter writes down, word-for-word, what is said in court.

Click here for the judge’s names and the court’s phone numbers in Santa Clara County

Where can I find a lawyer to help me with a Dependency case?

If you are indigent (you don’t have very much money), you can ask for a lawyer at the Court hearing. At the time the Court assigns a lawyer to your case, you will be asked to fill out a Financial Declaration form. The Court will determine if you have the ability to pay for lawyer fees for yourself and your child's lawyer.

Usually, Family Legal Advocates or the Office of Dependency Counsel Attorneys represent indigent parents. You may be charged for the lawyer fees if the Court determines that you have the ability to pay. There are other lawyers who may represent you, too.

You can also hire a private lawyer. You may wish to visit the website for the local bar association in Santa Clara County.

Who are the other lawyers in Juvenile Dependency Court?

The County Counsel’s Office represents the Department of Family and Children’s Services.

Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) usually represents the children.

Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC) usually represents parents with children in Dependency Court.

How do I contact those lawyers?

  • County Counsel’s Office
    The County Counsel’s office represents the Department of Family and Children’s Services in dependency cases.
    The office is at:

    373 W. Julian St., 3rd Floor
    San Jose, CA 95110
    Phone: (408) 491-4200

  • Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY)
    LACY usually represents the children in Dependency Court.
    The office is at:

    4 North Second Street, Suite 1300
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Phone: (408) 280-2416 (LACY intake)
    Phone: (408) 293-4790 (general questions)

  • Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC) :
    DAC usually represents parents with children in Dependency Court.
    The office is at:

    31 N. Second Street, Suite 300
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Phone: (408) 995-0714

Where do I file papers for Dependency Court?

You can file your Dependency Court papers at the Clerk’s office. All cases are confidential. The Clerk’s office cannot give out information over the phone. If you want to look at court files, go to the Clerk’s office. Bring a photo ID.

The Clerk’s office is at the Family Justice Center Courthouse (FJCC) in downtown San Jose. See the FJCC page for location, hours and phone numbers. Call the Clerk’s Office if you need ADA accommodations.

Who represents dependent children in Court?

Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) represent children in Dependency Court. They start to represent a child when the social worker files a petition under Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code This code talks about when a parent or caretaker abuses or neglects a child. A neighbor or friend may report abuse. There are also some people who HAVE to report abuse if they suspect it. This can be a therapist, a school official, or childcare provider.

The police may investigate. A social worker decides if the family should go to court. If the social worker files a petition, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) will provide the child’s lawyer. The child is a party in the court case.

Juvenile Court is the only court where children can speak for themselves. They can also have a lawyer. In Santa Clara County all children have a lawyer. The child’s lawyer has to make sure the Court knows what the child wants. But, if the child is too young to talk to the Court, the lawyer will represent what’s best for the child.

The child’s lawyer always has to tell the Court what the child wants. But, the lawyer can’t recommend sending the child home if it’s not safe. The lawyers make sure that the children they represent are:

  • Living in appropriate places
  • Are in the right schools, and
  • Are getting the services they need from the social worker.

Every lawyer has an investigator. The investigator goes to see the child at the Children’s Shelter, at school, and where they live. They also get other information the lawyer may need to help the child.

If you have questions about Dependency Court, or the law, contact Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) , phone (408) 293-4790

Who are the "parties" in a Dependency hearing?

Parties: A party is someone who has the right to:

  • Go to court
  • Be heard, and
  • Have a lawyer at the hearing

In a Dependency case, a party can be:

  • The mother
  • The father
  • The child
  • The social worker
  • A legal guardian for the child
  • A de facto parent

What are common legal problems with fathers?

The Juvenile Court has to know who a child’s legal father is. If the parents were married when the child was born, the Court assumes that the husband is the father. If the parents weren’t married, the Court might have to prove who the father is. This is called “establishing parentage”.

The Court can learn who the father is with a blood test. Or, there can be a paternity hearing. At the hearing the Court asks the parents about their relationship. If the parents went to Family Court or asked for child support, they might have already said who the father is.


The Juvenile Dependency Court will ask who the father of a child is. There are different types of fathers:

  • Legal Father – The law decides that this man is the father of a child. This can be because the father was married to the mother, signed a voluntary declaration, because a judge ruled that he was the father, or other ways.
  • Alleged Father – This is a man who isn’t the legal father of the child. But, someone says that he is the father of that child.
  • Presumed Father - A man who isn’t the legal father of a child. But, the law decides that he is a father who deserves special legal status.
    For example, an unmarried man who lives with the child and treats the child like his own. (Family Code section 7611 )
  • Biological Father - This is the man whose sperm made the child.

    If the Juvenile Court decides that a man is the legal father of a child they will tell the Office of Child Support. That way child support can be established and collected.

De Facto Parents:

A de facto parent is someone who the Court agrees has day-to-day care of the child and who qualifies to be a de facto parent.

A de facto parent can go to court and show evidence at the hearing. They can also have a lawyer. If the Court gives them permission, they can have a court appointed lawyer.

The De Facto Parent application forms are state (Judicial Council) forms. Click to download each of the state forms: JV-295 , JV-296 , JV-297 , and JV-298 . For more information about what a De Facto Parent is and about the application process, read the state's De Facto Parent Pamphlet (JV-299) .

Who else can be part of a Juvenile Dependency case?

The other people who can be part of a dependency case are:

  • Relatives:
    In general, relatives can go to Dependency hearings. The Court needs to know the names, addresses, and other information about all the relatives. The child can be sent to live with them, or they can support the child and other family members. If a child can’t stay with the parents, the Court would rather send them to live with relatives.

    A lawyer will give you a relative/kinship form.

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs):
    The Juvenile Court will name a “Court Appointed Special Advocate” (also called a CASA or Child Advocate) to visit the child regularly and to help say what’s best for the child. A Child Advocate can go to the hearing and talk to the judge. They can also look at all of the child’s records. Every Child Advocate is recruited, screened, trained and supervised.

    To learn more about Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, go to their web site: .

    You can also contact Child Advocates of Silicon Valley at: (408) 416-0400

    Or, email them at: