Family Law Appeals
When a court rules upon a matter, an appeal may be necessary to review whether any mishandling or errors occurred in the judicial process. The outcomes of proceedings have life-altering and significant impacts on an individual. The law office of Alba & Straile PLLC represents clients in a full range of family law appeals, including the appeal of rulings involving child custody, child support, alimony, property distribution, and other divorce or domestic-related issues.
What is a Standard (typical) Appeal, and what are the Time Limitations?
In a standard appeal, the District Court of Appeals (‘DCA’)is called upon to review a lower court’s decision. The party requesting an appellate review (‘appellant’) must file a proper notice of appeal with the trial court within 30 days of rendition of the final order or judgment
Are there alternatives to filing a Standard Appeal?
Yes, depending on your circumstances, there are two options to consider. The first is a ‘Motion for Rehearing,’ which must be requested within ten days following entry of the decision. The judge has the authority to deny a request for rehearing. Therefore, it may be necessary to proceed with a standard appeal. In some cases, a request for rehearing is required before appealing to a higher court to avoid the matter being remanded back to the lower court. The second alternative applies only to cases in which a General Magistrate heard the matter. Here, a party can object to the Magistrate’s findings by filing a ‘Notice of Exception to the Report and Recommendation.’ It must be filed within ten days of entry of the decision, which will allow the case to be heard by a Circuit Court Judge.
What are the Grounds for an Appeal in a Family Law Appeal?
It is essential to know that just because you do not like the court’s decision on a particular issue does not mean you have grounds to file an appeal. It is necessary to have a legally sufficient basis to support your request for appellate review. Some examples include:
- The trial court abused its discretion in evaluating, determining, or ruling upon a particular issue or issues;
- The trial court made an error in interpreting the law, such as misinterpreting applicable law or applying the inappropriate law to a matter;
- One of the parties committed fraud upon the court, such as falsifying income-related documents or concealing assets.
Determining your right to appeal a prior decision will depend on the unique facts of your particular case. A family law litigation attorney experienced at both the trial and appellate level can evaluate your matter. They will discuss your legal rights and options to filing an appeal in Florida.
What Happens After I file an Appeal?
The trial court will prepare the record and submit it to the appellate court. The appellant generally has the responsibility of ensuring that the record contains all appropriate and necessary documents (transcripts, documents filed by each party, orders, and all factual information). In some cases, appellants must arrange to have official transcripts sent to the higher court. In addition, the appellant is typically required to provide instructions regarding the contents of the record, which is submitted within a specific time (ten days for DCA cases) following the notice of appeal.
After that, an appellate briefing will take place, which generally involves three events, listed in sequential order, as follows: (1) the appellant files a brief outlining why the decision should be reversed; (2) the opposing/defending party (‘appellee’) files its answer stating why the decision should be affirmed; and (3) the appellant files its response to the answer rebutting the arguments raised by the appellee. Following the briefing, the parties will present oral arguments to the appellate court if the court requires it before the court enters its decision.
What is the Effect of the Initial Order or Judgment during the Appeals Process?
While an appeal is pending, the parties generally must abide by the terms of the initial order or judgment. However, the lower court or court of appeal may grant a stay or other form of temporary relief or impose special conditions while the parties are awaiting appellate review.
How long does a Family Law Appeal Take?
While there are time limitations for filing certain appeal documents, the appellate court has no set time to make a ruling. This scenario applies to family law appellate proceedings, as well as other types of appeals. However, having an experienced appellate attorney can prevent unnecessary delays and keep the case moving forward by addressing matters quickly and efficiently. Most standard family law appeals take around one year.
Do I need an Attorney to Appeal my Case?
The appellant is not required to have an attorney, but securing legal representation is highly recommended and for several reasons. First, the appeals process can be very complex. Appellate proceedings are governed by separate rules and involve different procedures. Family law appeals must be grounded upon a legal basis, supported by evidence, and presented to the appellate court in a manner that effectively relays your position to the court. Appeals also require a complete understanding of the appropriate standard of review. In addition, it is essential to consider whether there was a lack in the requisite fact-finding by the trial court. Moving for rehearing may be necessary before appeal to avoid the matter being remanded back to the trial court. These are just a few considerations in the appellate process. It is vital to understand the consequences and impacts of your actions or omissions before initiating an appeal.
Alba & Straile PLLC is Committed to Protecting you, your Children, and your Assets
Whether you wish to appeal a decision or are defending against an appeal, there are time limitations associated with certain appellate filings. Therefore, it is imperative that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing any critical deadlines. Solid legal counsel is necessary to ensure that your legal rights are adequately protected.
At Alba & Straile PLLC, w e pride ourselves on being results-driven and committed to our clients with compassion, attention to detail, and ease of attorney accessibility. Our goal is to provide our clients with the sound legal representation necessary to effectively and efficiently address their family law legal needs in trial or appeals court. We represent clients in Alachua, Lake, Marion, and the surrounding counties in Florida. Contact Alba & Straile PLLC at (352) 371-9141 for a no-obligation consultation today.