If you are not satisfied with the outcome of a family law matter, you should discuss the possibility of an appeal with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. If you are dissatisfied, you should appeal to a higher court quickly in an effort to overturn the family court ruling.
The family law court system has three basic tiers:
- Circuit and county trial courts
- District courts of appeal
- The state Supreme Court
Paternity disputes, divorces, and other family law matters are initially handled in the trial courts. But, if a party is unhappy with the outcome, he or she can file an appeal in the district court serving their jurisdiction, under certain circumstances. Typically, only limited grounds exist to appeal a family court ruling and appeals must be filed within a short time. Consequently, if you want to file an appeal, you should discuss your situation with a family law appeals attorney as soon as possible.
Family Law Court Order Appeals
You can appeal the decision of the court in all types of family law matters, including:
- Spousal support
- Division of property
- Child custody
- Parenting plans
- Child support
- Termination of parental rights
When you contact a lawyer, he or she should act to evaluate your case quickly to determine if you have grounds for an appeal. If you do, and it is not too late, an attorney will strive to ensure that your Notice of Appeal is filed promptly.
Grounds for an Appeal
The grounds for filing an appeal to a family law decision are very limited. The primary grounds for appeals include:
Critical evidence was ignored
For instance, you may have been seeking child support or alimony, and the judge refused to acknowledge evidence that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse was hiding income.
Established law was ignored
Trial court judges must apply established law to the facts of the case. If the judge in your case ignored or misunderstood applicable law, you may have grounds for an appeal.
Your court judge abused his or her discretion
These are complicated legal issues. Determining whether you have grounds to file an appeal requires an attorney with a thorough understanding of both procedural and substantive law. A family lawyer can provide a comprehensive case assessment for you. Then, you will have the ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to file an appeal.
You May Be Able to Request a Modification
If you wish to have changes to a family law court order, you can often petition the court for a modification. Modifications focus on adapting to changes in the parties’ personal circumstances or on mistakes made by the court. No time limit for requesting a modification exists, unlike filing an appeal. If a significant change in your circumstances has developed and you are unable to continue to meet your obligations, you might be entitled to a modification in the terms. An experienced family law attorney can review your options with you and seek a modification from the court.