Family law cases involving property division, alimony and child custody are often rife with conflicting opinions and sometimes a judgment just does not go the way you want it to.
This is both disappointing and frustrating. If you think the court made a mistake when issuing an order that did not go in your favor, you might be able to appeal the order to the next highest court and have it reversed.
When can I appeal a Family Court order?
You can file an appeal to have a Family Court order overturned by the next highest court if you believe the original decision was based on a mistake of fact or law. These are known as the “grounds” for an appeal.
This means you cannot simply appeal a judge’s decision just because you do not like the outcome. An appeal must be based on legal grounds. Moreover, you must have objected to the same grounds at your original trial.
It is very important to note that an appeal is not the same as a new trial. The Appellate Court will only consider the facts on the record, that is, the evidence submitted at your original trial.
The timeline for appealing a Family Court order
You do not have an unlimited amount of time to file an appeal of a Family Court order. You only have 30 days after you receive your copy of the court’s order to file a notice of appeal.
After that, there are specific timelines for preparing the “record on appeal” and submit your brief explaining why you think the original decision contained a mistake of fact or law.
Outcomes of an appeal
An appeal of a Family Court decision can have one of several outcomes. The Appellate Court can:
- Reverse the original decision
- Send the case back to the trial court for a new hearing
- Affirm the original decision, meaning it will remain unchanged
- Modify part of the original decision, but leave other parts in place
Appealing a Family Court order can have a major effect on your future, whether the outcome is in your favor or not. The gravity of the situation can be significant, and many would agree that it can help to work with a professional familiar with the Family Court appellate process.