Bianka M. v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Bianka, a 13-year-old girl from Honduras, hopes to avoid deportation by obtaining “special immigrant juvenile” (SIJ) status. Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), SIJ status is a classification created by Congress to provide special immigration protection to undocumented, unaccompanied children entering the United States who have been the victims of parental abuse, neglect, abandonment or some similar circumstance. Bianka initiated a parentage action under the Uniform Parentage Act, Fam. Code, 7600 et seq., naming her mother as the respondent. Bianka also filed a pretrial request for order asking the court to place her in the sole legal and physical custody of her mother and to make the additional findings necessary to allow her to petition for SIJ status, namely that she cannot reunify with her father because he abandoned her and it is not in her best interest to return to Honduras. The trial court declined to make the requested finding. The court concluded that the UPA is the exclusive means by which unmarried adults may resolve disputes relating to rights and obligations arising out of the parent-child relationship, including child custody, visitation and support. In an action between natural, alleged and/or presumed parents, the parentage of each party to the action is squarely at issue and is adjudicated before issues of custody, visitation and support are considered. The court further concluded that under the circumstances present here, where Bianka’s father’s identity and whereabouts are known, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by requiring Bianka to join her father to the pending action. Finally, the court provided instructions to Bianka on the next steps in seeking a custody order and/or SIJ findings.