Divorce can be a trying experience for everyone involved. Even if you and your spouse mutually decide to divorce and can communicate effectively throughout the process, there will be a great deal of give and take between the two of you. Chances are that you will not walk away from a divorce with everything that you want, which is why it is important to work with an experienced Florida divorce attorney to determine the things that are most important to you and develop an effective strategy to achieve them.
What happens when you attempt to negotiate fairly and still do not meet your needs in a divorce or other family law matter? Most people know that criminal convictions can be appealed. Well, the same is true for many family law decisions. Appealing a family law decision is not always the right move, but it could be an option for you to explore. Understanding some of the basics of appealing a family law decision is an important first step in understanding your options.
Basics of Family Law Appeals
It is important to remember that while the right to appeal might be an important part of your legal rights when it comes to divorce, there are more factors to consider other than simply not liking the court’s judgment. The appeals process can be costly and time-consuming, and sometimes there are alternatives that can be more beneficial to you.
When it comes to appeals, you should be sure that you have a strong legal basis for moving forward with your case. Appeals are not a retrial and an appeals court will not relitigate all of the facts of the case. Instead, appeals are focused on whether errors occurred during the judicial process that significantly impacted the final outcome. Florida District Courts of Appeal will only review certain aspects of the judgment, namely those portions that you are appealing. They will listen to legal arguments about why the outcome of the decision should be overturned. Generally, the only time factual findings that have led to a particular decision will be overturned is when there is no factual basis to support such findings.
If you are considering an appeal, then it is important to understand exactly what the appeals process entails and what you can expect. Attention to detail is extremely important, so working closely with an experienced Florida family law attorney is an important part of the appeals process.
Decisions that can be Appealed
Most family law matters can be appealed once a final order has been entered. While there are exceptions to this, those exceptions are few and far between.
That means that most decisions related to a divorce can be appealed once they are final. This includes matters related to the final divorce order itself; time-sharing and custody orders; and potentially financial determinations like spousal support obligations. Child support obligations are determined by a preset formula and, as such, cannot be appealed.
The Appeals Process
The appeals process starts by meeting with your attorney to determine the best options for moving forward with your goals. In some cases, that may involve an appeal.
The actual appeals process is initiated by filing a Notice of Appeal, which must happen within 30 days of the decision you wish to appeal. This notice only announces your intent to appeal the decision so that all parties are on the same page, and it must be accompanied by payment of the appropriate fee.
You must then file an initial brief regarding your appeal within a specific period of time after filing the original notice. There are many important requirements for the format of this brief that must be strictly adhered to in order for it to be accepted. This is something that an experienced family law attorney can focus on, which can save you time and money by helping you avoid formatting pitfalls that could derail your appeal. The brief will summarize your reason for appealing the decision and provide a legal context to support your position.
The opposing party will have a chance to respond to this brief and provide their own legal context as to why the decision you are appealing should be upheld. After the response has been filed, you will then have an opportunity to respond to their answer. As such, important nuances in the law must be understood and applied correctly in order to increase the chance of a successful appeal.
Strong Legal Advocacy and Support
Given the complexities of the appeals process, navigating an appeal alone can be intimidating. However, an experienced family lawyer who understands the nuances of family law can be an important advocate throughout the divorce process, and especially during an appeal. Appeals can be costly and take a lot of time, but if your rights have been curtailed or an egregious error in judgment resulted in a final order in your family law matter, then an appeal could be the right move for you.
All family law matters are complicated, especially given how much is riding on them. They can have a significant impact on your family and your family’s rights. They can have long-term consequences for your relationship with your children. They can also significantly affect your financial well-being now and into the future. If you have family law questions, especially those pertaining to divorce and the Florida divorce process, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation and find out more about how our firm can work with you.