How is Child Welfare Improved?(Read on 18 Strategies)

How is Child Welfare Improved?: Researchers analyzed the effects of common strategies for improving the child welfare system.

Encouraging family preservation efforts that keep children in the system with their parents.

Strengthening care by relatives—kinship care—to improve the experience of children already in the system.

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How is Child Welfare Improved?
How is Child Welfare Improved?

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

When a judge issues a custody order, it reflects the needs of the parents.

And the best interests of the child – at the time.

However, as the years pass, your life will probably change.

For example, your child might have activities that conflict with the visitation schedule.

Or you might have started a job with a new work schedule.

Whatever the reason, courts are generally inclined to change a child custody decision.

If both parents are in agreement.

Absent agreement, a judge still might change a child custody decision.

If you can prove the change is in your child’s best interests.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

1. Talk to the other parent.

If you are on good terms with the other parent.

Work together to adjust the parenting plan so that it suits both of your needs and the needs of your child.

Print out your new parenting plan, which you will need to submit to the judge.

  • Child custody decisions typically need to be modified every two or three years anyway as the child grows. Two parents who are able to come to an agreement rationally will have a much easier time co-parenting.

2. Consider working with a counselor or mediator.

If you don’t get along with the other parent.

A neutral third party might be able to help the two of you reach an agreement.

Check with the family court clerk to get a list of counselors.

Or mediators that are approved for dealing with child custody issues.

3. Search for forms.

Most jurisdictions have forms that are pre-approved by the courts to file a joint motion to modify custody. 

Look on the court’s website or stop in and ask the court clerk.

  • Even if you both agree to the change, you still need a judge to approve it.
  • For this reason, you need to file a motion.

4. Fill out the form for a joint motion.

The form requires information about the original child custody decision.

Why it isn’t working, and how you propose to change it.

  • In addition to your joint motion form, the court may require other forms such as information sheets or attachments. You can probably find these forms on the court’s website as well.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

5. File your joint motion.

You must file your joint motion in the court where the original custody decision was entered.

This might not be the court in the county where you currently live.

Take your motion to the court clerk and ask to file.

They should provide you with a copy stamped as filed.”

  • Some courts don’t charge a fee if you file a joint motion or motion by stipulation. 
  • However, other courts might.
  • If you can’t afford the fee, ask the clerk for a fee waiver application.
  • Provided you meet the court’s income guidelines, you won’t have to pay any filing fees for your case.

6. Schedule a hearing if necessary.

Some courts will require that you attend a hearing.

If so, the clerk should tell you when it will be scheduled. 

If no hearing is required, the clerk should tell you when to expect the judge to enter the order.

7. Attend your hearing.

In some jurisdictions, the judge will want to talk to you before approving your joint motion.

Bring a copy of your proposed parenting plan and a draft of the judges order you want entered.

Forms for the judge’s order typically are available online or at the clerk’s office.

  • The hearing shouldn’t be long. Basically, the judge simply wants to confirm that the two of you are in agreement and that you reached agreement voluntarily.

The judge should sign an order which includes the new custody arrangement.

Make sure you have a copy.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

8. Identify a change in circumstances.

If you and the other parent can’t reach an agreement.

You’ll have to ask a judge to change the child custody arrangement anyway.

Judges generally don’t like to make changes unless new circumstances will significantly affect your child.

Consider the following examples, which are the kind of major changes that warrant a child custody modification:

  • One parent wants to move to a different state.
  • The child’s living conditions with the custodial parent are unsafe.
  • One parent has a new job with longer or different hours.
  • One parent has remarried and now has multiple stepchildren living with them.

9. Consult with an attorney.

You can probably expect the other parent to fight you, so you should get expert legal advice.

You want to put forward the strongest argument you can, and only a qualified attorney can advise you.

Obtain a referral by contacting your nearest bar association.

  • If money is a concern, you can try to find reduced-fee help at a legal aid office or family law clinic.
  • Check your phone book or look online.
  • You can hire a lawyer to handle only certain tasks, such as drafting your motion or representing you in court. This is called “limited scope representation” and is a good way to save money.
  • Ask a lawyer if they offer this service.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

10. Search for forms.

Many courts have forms available that you can use to file a motion to modify a child custody decision.

Look online or stop in and ask the court clerk.

  • In addition to the motion, you’ll need other documents, such as an “affidavit of service” form (also called “proof of service”).

11. Gather documents.

If you have a proposed parenting plan you’d like the judge to approve.

You can present it using the same worksheets or documents that you used for an initial child custody petition.

  • You also should get a copy of the original child custody order.
  • Which you may need to attach to your motion.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

12. Prove a significant change in circumstances.

A judge wants to see evidence that there has been a major change.

Its usually not enough for you to simply claim a major change has taken place.

Find supporting documents or witnesses who can back up your case.

  • For example, you might have a new job with different hours.
  • Get a letter from your supervisor that describes your new schedule.
  • If the child’s home environment has become unsafe, get copies of medical records or police reports.
  • You can also talk to your child’s teachers or neighbors and ask them to testify on your behalf.

13. Draft your motion.

Once you have all of your information and supporting documents together.

Youre ready to draft the document that will present your argument to the judge.

If no fill-in-the-blank form was available.

You might ask the clerk if you can look at sample motions filed in other cases.

Use them as guides when drafting your own.

  • Provide background information about yourself, the other parent, your child, and the original child custody order.
  • Explain the circumstances that warrant a modification in child custody. 
  • Be as specific as possible and refer to supporting documents.
  • If you have documents that back up your claims, make sure to refer to them and include copies as exhibits.
  • You also must argue that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests.
  • This isn’t difficult, especially if the change allows you to continue to see your child.

14. File your motion.

Make several copies of your motion and supporting documents.

Take the originals and the copies to the court clerk and ask to file.

Generally, you must file your motion with the clerk of the same court that entered the original child custody order.

  • You’ll need to pay a filing fee. Ask for a fee waiver form if you can’t afford it.
  • The clerk will stamp all your paperwork “filed” and give the copies back to you.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

15. Schedule your hearing.

Each court handles the scheduling a little differently In some courts.

The clerk will wait to hear back from the other parent before scheduling a hearing.

In other courts, you must pick a date and include the date on the papers you send to the other parent.

Ask the clerk about the process.

  • Keep in mind that some jurisdictions require you to attend mediation before the clerk will schedule a court hearing. If youve already tried mediation, you should provide a certificate from the mediator.

16. Have the other parent served a copy of the papers.

The other parent has a chance to respond to your motion, so you must send them a copy of what you’ve filed.

You can’t serve the papers yourself, so arrange service using an acceptable method:

  • Usually, you can pay the sheriff or a process server to make hand delivery.
  • The fee will vary depending on your location, but it should be around $50.
  • Whoever serves the papers should fill out a proof of service form and return it to you.
  • You can also ask someone 18 or older to make hand delivery, provided they aren’t part of the case.
  • In some courts, you can use certified mail, return receipt requested. Read your jurisdiction’s laws to see if this is an option.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

17. Argue your case at the hearing.

Explain to the judge how circumstances have changed.

And why modifying the order is in your childs best interests.

Since you brought the motion, you will probably go first.

  • The other parent will have a chance to argue why the judge shouldnt modify the custody arrangement. Listen quietly as they present their case.
  • After the judge has heard both sides of the story, they will make a decision and sign an order.

How is Child Welfare Improved?:

18. More tips

  • Courts value consistency in child custody and parenting plans.

    It’ll be harder to modify an order if it was only entered a few months ago.

    If it was entered several years ago, on the other hand, the judge may be more open to changing it.

  • Call the police as soon as possible if you suspect your child is in danger.
  • After you’ve filed your police report.
  • Seek legal assistance to file a motion to modify the child support order if necessary.

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