Why You Might Want to Appeal a Custody Ruling
Custody is one of the most important decisions made during a divorce or legal separation. It is also a highly emotional situation. When making final custody rulings, judges are guided by both state law and what is in the child or children's best interests. However, mistakes do happen. If you believe that an error was made with your custody ruling, you may have the option to appeal it in the appellate courts.
Other reasons you might wish to appeal a child custody ruling include:
- You believe CA custody laws were misapplied or misinterpreted in your case
- The judge didn't consider all aspects of the case when making their decision
- There were other legal errors made during the case
- New information has come to light that affects the custody ruling
It is important to remember that the purpose of an appeal is to address a legal mistake made. When deciding whether or not to hear an appeal, the appellate courts will consider both if a legal error occurred and whether or not this mistake affected the case's outcome. The appeals process is not intended to provide you with a second opinion on your case. Relatedly, appellate judges cannot change a ruling just because they disagree with it – they can only reverse a ruling if it found that a legal mistake did happen and that the mistake affected the ruling.
What Does the Appellate Court Do?
Many people assume that the appellate courts will hold a new trial when they appeal a custody ruling. This is not the case. Instead, the court will review the first trial in its entirety and the paperwork filed by your lawyer when petitioning for an appeal. They will also look at the legal briefs submitted by the other side. Oral arguments are also a common part of the appeals process.
In Los Angeles, family court appeals are heard in the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Custody Appeal?
While you can petition for an appeal on your own, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced attorney. The appeals process is complicated, and the successful outcome of your case is reliant on many factors. A lawyer can help you ensure that all paperwork is completed and submitted correctly, all deadlines are met, and the likelihood of errors is minimalized. Mistakes in the appeals process can result in delays or the case being thrown out.
TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP is well-versed in family law appeals, and we have extensive experience helping clients with all types of custody issues. Contact us today to discuss your case and find out if an appeal is right for you.
Alternatives to Appealing a Child Custody Ruling
Taking your issue to the appellate courts is not always appropriate nor the best solution to your custody problem. The appeals process is complicated and can take a long time. Additionally, the appellate court's scope is fairly narrow, and they will only see cases in which an error or other legal problem occurred. Being unhappy with the outcome of your case is not grounds for an appeal. An experienced attorney can look at your situation and help you find the best solution.
Instead of petitioning for an appeal, you may instead wish to:
- File a motion to vacate or set aside the custody judgment
- File a motion for reconsideration
- Seek a modification or change of the custody order
- Work with a mediator or arbitrator to resolve your issue
You can further explore California's options to appealing on the court's website.