Appealing a decision in a family law matter is a complicated endeavor with strict deadlines and complicated procedural rules. Having a competent attorney and appellate counsel at your side can help you navigate the appeals process successfully.
An appeal is a request to a higher court to reverse a decision that a lower court made. It is not a chance to re-litigate your case. There are no witnesses, no new/additional evidence, no testimony, and no discoveries. Instead, the Court of Appeal reviews the record to determine if the trial court judge made a legal mistake that affected the final ruling.
The procedural and strategic issues that come about on a family law appeal are different from the procedural and strategic issues involved in family law litigation. Appeals must be filed within a short time after the initial judgment or appealable order is entered. These are hard deadlines—there is no wiggle room for a late filing.
In family law and other unlimited civil cases, you have:
Additionally, not all orders are directly appealable. There may be alternatives, such as filing a Writ with the Court of Appeal. Consulting with an attorney will help to deduce whether an appeal or writ is possible.
The appeals process is a lengthy one, even when the issue (such as child custody and visitation) warrants an expedited appeal. All an expedited appeal means is that the court will give priority to a hearing date. It does not advance or accelerate the timelines leading up to the hearing date, nor does it ensure the court will make a quick decision.
The other piece that cannot be understated is cost. Appeals are expensive, and there’s no way around that. A good attorney can help make the process more efficient, but cost is still going to be a significant factor.
It’s often said that the best way to win an appeal is at trial. There’s a lot of truth to that statement, especially in the family law arena. Further, many types of orders cannot be appealed. There are other possible avenues such as filing a writ with the appellate court; however, those are also difficult to win, too.
So, why appeal an order or judgment? Because, sometimes, the trial court gets it wrong. Given the direct impact of family law rulings on you and/or your family’s lives, the court must exercise its discretion within the limits/confines of the law.
At Creative Family Solutions, we assist our clients and other attorneys in appealing a trial court’s family law judgment. Common issues we handle include (but are not limited to):
If your issue involves these areas or other complex areas of family law, you’ll want an attorney on your side to ensure your appeal is heard. If you are a litigant seeking to appeal a recent ruling, you must make a record of the case you wish to appeal.
Without a record, an appeal is not going to be possible, since there’s nothing for the appellate court to review. To make a record, you must ensure that a court reporter attends your trial or hearing, so a transcript of your judgment exists.
After your trial or hearing, order a copy of that transcript and make sure you have a copy of your complete file available to go over with your appellate counsel.
At Creative Family Solutions, we provide legal representation to individuals and attorneys who need assistance with the appeals process. Contact us online or via phone at (916) 797-1575 for a personal consultation with our legal team.
*Please note that, in the context of appeals, our consultation process involves a flat fee paid in advance of the appointment. Please contact our office with any questions you may have or to schedule a consultation.
We remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are happy to conduct video or telephonic conferences with all our current and prospective clients. Stay safe!
Fields marked with an * are required