The California Supreme Court has determined that a child’s nonresident, noncustodial parent need not be joined as a party in her parentage action seeking special immigrant juvenile findings. Provided that the absent parent has received adequate notice, the action may proceed even if the parent is beyond the personal jurisdiction of the court and cannot be joined as a party. In addition, any perceived immigration-related motivations for the filing of the parentage action have on bearing on whether the action may proceed. The action may also proceed regardless of whether the court believes it was filed primarily for the purpose of obtaining the protections from abuse, neglect, or abandonment that federal immigration law provides.

“Ultimately we need not decide here whether the courts’ concerns about prejudice would justify Jorge’s joinder as a necessary party if it were feasible to join him. We instead assume, without deciding, that Jorge is a necessary party as to the SIJ finding of abandonment. Because Jorge’s joinder is not feasible, the central question under the mandatory joinder statute is whether the court can, “in equity and good conscience,” make the finding in Jorge’s absence. Under section 389, subdivision (b), the potential prejudice that may flow from a judgment rendered in Jorge’s absence must be weighed alongside other factors: whether the prejudice can be lessened by the shaping of relief; whether a judgment rendered in Jorge’s absence will be adequate; and, as particularly important here, whether the plaintiff will have an adequate remedy if the action is dismissed for nonjoinder. (Code Civ. Proc., § 389, subd. (b).)”

“To conclude that the state court finding cannot be made in Jorge’s absence is therefore effectively to say that Jorge, by failing to assert any right to custody or visitation of Bianka in this proceeding, can essentially bar Bianka from seeking relief premised on the very fact of his abandonment. While the potential prejudice to Jorge is, at this point, necessarily speculative, the prejudice to Bianka’s legal position is immediate and unavoidable. “

The full text of Bianka M. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County can be found here: