Requesting a Change to a Dependency Court Order

If there is already an order about my child from a judge in juvenile dependency court, how do I ask for greater custody or visitation rights?

As part of an earlier court order, a dependency court judge may have: (1) placed your child with relatives or foster parents;[2459] (2) given you visitation rights, and/or; (3) given you a case plan that requires you to attend parenting/counseling classes and do other things to reunify with your children.

If the dependency court judge has made an order giving your child’s care to a foster parent or guardian, here are some things you can do to help your chances of getting your child back:

    Visit your child as much as you can, and
    Follow your case plan.

Doing these things will put you in a better position to ask for greater custody or visitation rights from the dependency court judge. If the court sees you have been making positive visits with your child and following your case plan, it may respond more favorably when you file a 388 petition—special legal paperwork to change a past dependency court order and ask for greater custody or visitation rights. Learn more about filing a 388 petition in on Appendix E, PG. 804.

If you have a lawyer:

If the dependency court is actively reviewing your child’s case, you can ask a lawyer to help you write the 388 petition on Form JV-180, “Request to Change Court Order.”

If you don’t have a lawyer, use Form JV-180:

You can file a “388 petition” on your own by using Form JV-180. If you need more space to explain your answers, you can attach extra sheets of paper.

    Fill out your petition and include supportive documents: If you need more space to explain your answers, you can attach extra sheets of paper to your petition. Attach any documents that may strengthen your request, such as: letters from your child asking to see you, copies of letters you sent to your child, a letters or declarations from relatives stating that your child wants to see you, certificates earned, character reference letters from people who support your request, and documentation about your current employment, schooling, or housing situation.
    Deliver your petition to the court: You can hand-deliver or mail your petition papers to the court. First, make 2 copies of everything. Keep one copy for yourself. Then deliver the original and one copy to the court, or mail them with a self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed.
    Wait to see if the judge orders a hearing: Once you deliver the original and a copy of your petition, the court clerk will file the original, stamp the copy, and return the copy to you in person or by mail. Next, the judge will read your petition and decide either (1) to schedule a court hearing for your petition, or (2) deny your petition.
    Prepare for your court hearing: If the judge orders a hearing, read the entire dependency court section of this chapter to learn about how your record will come up and how you can prepare for your hearing.
  1. 2459

    Dependency and probate courts can both create guardianships. These are two different procedures. Dependency guardianship cases usually involve CPS, and dependency courts usually appoint attorneys for parents. Probate guardianship cases usually don’t involve CPS, and probate courts usually don’t appoint attorneys for parents.