family law appeals
Bringing or Defending an Appeal
Family law cases are personal. As you fight for what’s best for your family, the process can seem long and difficult. Many people spend a significant amount of time, money, and effort assembling their family law case and bringing it to court. Unfortunately, this does not inherently mean that you will win.
Losses or unfavorable convictions in family court can be devastating. Often these cases surround child custody or divorce settlements, which are deeply personal litigation matters. Many of our clients believe to doubt their feelings and perspectives and believe that they must accept the court ruling as it is. This is not the case. The appeals process provides hope after you lose your initial case. An appeal may be brought to challenge an error in a family court ruling where there was insufficient evidence to support the ruling, where the court abused its discretion, or where the court made an error in law.
The process is done on written briefing, followed by a brief oral argument at the court of appeal before a panel of three justices. The timelines are statutorily based, and once the timeline to bring your appeal is missed, it cannot be corrected. Promptly contact appellate counsel upon receiving your ruling if you believe the trial court may have made an error in your case.
Many times, appeals are confused with retrials. However, you will not be redoing the trial when you request an appeal. Instead, you are asking a higher court to look at your case, the evidence, and the judge’s verdict to be sure that the decision was fair and accurate.
You cannot ask for an appeal without reason, however. Simply disagreeing with the verdict does not provide the opportunity for an appeal to occur. One of the following conditions must be true.
The Evidence in The Case Points To A Different Conclusion
In some cases, the evidence that was presented in court points at a verdict or conclusion that is completely different from what the judge ruled. If this seems to be the case, an appeal may be possible.
Remember, the conclusion that the judge made took both sides of the case into account, not just yours. Though you may have convincing evidence for your argument, the other side of the argument may have provided more significant or more convincing evidence.
It is also important to remember that you cannot introduce any new evidence when you request an appeal. The appellate courts will review your case as it is, without new evidence presented.
There Was an Error Of Law
Though judges have a responsibility to uphold the law, they do make mistakes sometimes. In some cases, they may have failed to follow the law when deciding upon a verdict. For example, if custody is determined, but the judge did not consider the best interests of the child or children, as is the law, an appeal may be appropriate.
The Judge Abused Their Power
This is rare, but sometimes a judge does not adhere to the confines of their position. Sometimes they are biased or bribed, while in more subtle instances, they may simply give one aspect of the trial unearned weight in a case. Whatever it may be, an abuse of power is grounds for an appeal.
Be aware that appellate courts often defer to the judge on the case, so it can be difficult to prove that an abuse of power happened. You need to have significant evidence proving that this occurred. Your attorney will likely indicate whether this is a viable possibility or not.
If your case falls within one of the above categories, you may have grounds to appeal your family law case.
File And Serve A Notice Of Appeal
After you have decided to appeal, your appeals attorney will help you to file and serve an appeal notice. With this notice, you will have to pay a bond of $500 to the appeals court clerk, as well as fees for the district and supreme courts as well. Your attorney can help you navigate this process and discuss whether a “stay” of the current judgment is appropriate.
Not All Cases Are Eligible
As you can see, not all family law cases will fall into one of the above categories. This means that not all family law cases are eligible for an appeal. If yours is not, do not despair. You may have other legal avenues to pursue in order to protest the ruling. You are not out of options if your case is not eligible for an appeal.
There Is A Time Limit
It is essential to note that there is a time limit when it comes to filing an appeal. Though it varies from state to state, in California, you have 60 days after you are served with the court’s decision or 180 days after the case has been marked as “filed” to file for an appeal. The deadline is whichever of these events comes first. After that time, it is impossible to file an appeal on your case.
Do I Need An Appeals Lawyer?
You absolutely need an Orange County appellate lawyer on your side when filing an appeal in family court. This type of litigation is difficult, and the courts’ default is to side with the original decision. This means that you need an appeals lawyer who has a deep and thorough understanding of the system in order to have a chance at successfully appealing your case.
Though you may decide to continue to use the same attorney as you did for your case, Orange County appellate lawyers may have a new perspective on the situation, along with a better understanding of the appeals system. The more experience and specificity your appeal attorney can give to your case, the better your chances at a successful appeal.
At the Law Offices of Lisa McCall, we are industry leaders in the Orange County appeals community. We know the details of appeal law and understand just how important appealing a family law verdict can be. We work hard for you and your family to ensure that we achieve the very best possible results.
For more information or to request a consultation on your appeal case, contact us today.