Divorce can be a draining and sensitive process, and going to court to resolve child custody, alimony or property division requires a plethora of prying questions. When in court, facts may be misconstrued, or the judge may apply the law in an incorrect, contradictory manner, resulting in an unfair division of spousal support, time-sharing schedule, or division of assets. Through Florida Statute § 61.537, the State of Florida allows for the possibility of appeal as a way to rectify any mistakes that occurred with regard to the case, the trial, or the final court order. An appeal must be made shortly following a court decision — typically within 30 days of the decision entry. Contacting an experienced Gainesville family law attorney with the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates can help you navigate through the appeals process, and preemptively determine the validity of the appeal to help you avoid wasting both time and money.
What Is A Family Law Appeal?
Family law encompasses any case relating to individuals who share a domestic connection, such as those related by blood or those who are married. A family law attorney would typically be needed for cases regarding divorce, child support and visitation, property division, and in situations where there is a concern for physical or emotional abuse.
The appeals process occurs after a case has proceeded through the trial court system, and a party is unhappy with the handling of the case or the final result of the case. After the trial court judge rules on the case presented, a party has a specific time frame to appeal the court’s decision (usually 30 days for standard appeals). The appeal then goes to the District Court of Appeals during which time the case is reviewed by a judge different from the judge who initially presided over the case.
What Can Result From Filing An Appeal?
Filing for an appeal doesn’t actively work as a ‘do-over’ and it cannot be filed solely due to the dislike of the trial court's initial decision. Appeals should be used in cases in which there is adequate legal evidence showcasing support for the party that requests an appellate review. Reasons for applying for an appeal include the following.
- The trial court did not understand the facts or abused its discretion (decision-making ability) when deciding on the issue(s)
- The trial court incorrectly uses or interprets a law to decide the case
- One of the parties concealed information from the court or falsified documents for the trial
The factors unique to your case will determine whether or not the right to appeal applies. Typically, the party requesting an appellate review — the appellant — has 30 days from the court’s decision to file a Notice of Appeal with the trial court. A Gainesville attorney can assess your case and help determine if you would benefit from filing an appeal.
What Happens After A Notice Of Appeal Is Filed?
After filing a Notice of Appeal, the trial court will prepare and submit the record to the appellate court. The appellant has the responsibility of ensuring the record has all of the appropriate and necessary documents. The appellant may also be required to provide further documentation to the court, such as information regarding the contents of the record, or a request for oral argument, within 10 days of filing a Notice of Appeal.
Once an appeal is filed, appellate briefing occurs, which allows the appellant to present their written support of the reversal of the trial court’s decision. The appellee — the party in defense of the original decision — presents their affirmation for the trial court’s decision. The appellant then files its response to the rebuttal from the appellee. An oral argument can be presented to the appellate court if so required.
What Happens To The Trial Court’s Decision During The Appeals Process?
While an appeal awaits review, whatever terms were established by the trial court, such as division of custody, child support, or any necessary property settlements should be followed. However, the Court of Appeals may impose special conditions while parties are awaiting appellate review if one of the parties impacted requires temporary relief or support while the case is being reviewed. Our Gainesville divorce attorneys can help clarify any decisions made by either court and how these decisions may impact you while the appeal is being processed.
Is A Family Law Attorney Required For An Appeal?
While a lawyer isn’t required for the appellant process, seeking counsel is recommended to help effectively manage your family law appeal. The process of filing a family law appeal can be cumbersome, as appellate proceedings are governed by separate rules and involve different procedures than those followed in the trial court. Appeals require proper understanding of the legal process and they involve the presentation of evidence that must adequately express why the trial court’s decision should be overturned. Due to the lack of a specific time frame during which the appellate courts rule on an appeal, hiring an appellate attorney well-versed in family law can help individuals who seek an appeal ensure that all documents are promptly submitted and the case does not suffer any setbacks due to missed deadlines.