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De Facto Law

What is de facto law?

The literal meaning of de facto is “concerning fact”. In the legal perspective it could be described as “in practice but not ordained by law or not officially established”. It is usually used to contrast matters of de jure which means “concerning the law”. While discussing legal situations, de jure is used to describe what the actual law states whereas de facto is referred to the actual facts or what happens in practice. Below are answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about De Facto laws.

I have been raising my grandson for eight years and now his father wants custody though he has not provided any financial support. Does Arizona have de facto custody laws?

A petition for de facto custody or non parent custody can be made by grandparents who have been raising their grandchild. As a grandparent you have a legal right as you have raised your grandson for the last eight years. While reviewing the petition the court considers the quality of your grandson’s life while living with you as opposed to lack of parental involvement. Ultimately the court will look at circumstances which are best suitable for the child. In addition to filing for custody of the child, you can also file an order for child support for the last eight years. The parent can object to your petition and this could have an influence on the court’s ruling. It would be wise to hire the services of a lawyer as this would be a complex process and would need the experience of a professional.

I was in a de facto relationship for nine years where I was engaged to my partner and we were living together. The mortgage of our home was paid through a joint bank account. Now we have separated and my name is still on the debt. I would like to stake a claim on the property. What are my options?

While being in a de facto relationship, if you have contributed towards the mortgage of the property, you would have some reasonable right on the property since your former partner was accepting payments for this purpose. Even if your name is not on the title of the property you would have certain specific rights which need to be assessed preferably by a real estate lawyer. A matrimonial lawyer would also be useful in your case even though you were not married at that point. This is because there may be some rights your jurisdiction may recognize under common law marriage or palimony rights.

The Louisiana legislature did not declare any official languages but the de facto languages were French and English. A group of people requested the local newspaper be printed in French as well but the owner is not complying. What can be done?

In 1845 the Constitution and Legislature declared the official government material be published in both languages as many officials were of French or foreign origin. However the law did not sanctify any particular language as the “official language” nor did it require private enterprises including local newspapers to publish in French. Hence though English and French were used de facto, there is no mandate that only one language is official or a local publishing agency is required to publish their papers in French.

My ex-wife’s 17 year old daughter wants to move in with me. I am not her biological father but I have taken care of her from two weeks to 13 years. If I can financially support her how can I get legal custody of her?

You would need to prove and argue at court you were the “de facto” parent to the child and seek standing custody of her. The main aspect is to convince the court, her being with you serves for the child’s best interests. At 17 years of age, her testimony and wishes will also be considered by the court. Texas does recognize the de facto parent child relationship but it would be advisable to hire an attorney to fight the predisposed favoritism of the court towards the biological parent.

De facto law takes into consideration the actual facts or what is done in practice. It is not considered a law by itself or legally binding. However you may have certain rights with respect to being in a de facto situation. To have your questions answered and doubts clarified about your particular situation concerning de facto law, consulting Experts would be effective and useful.
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