DOES YOUR CLIENT WANT TO FILE A POST-DIVORCE APPEAL?
At some point in the divorce trial, you may have sensed things were not going well. Perhaps the judge took an immediate disliking to your client or overruled critical objections. As the case progresses, you may have concerns about the client’s right to appeal a decision. In fact, if your client has already expressed the desire to file an appeal, you may be directing your energy into handling the rest of the trial with an appeal in mind, including making appropriate objections as the case proceeds.
As you know, there is a limited amount of time to file an appeal in family court. In California, you have 60 days from the time the court serves your client with notice that the judgement has been filed in his or her case. If you are uncertain or lack experience in the appellate process, you may want to seek guidance from a law firm that has significant experience in this area of law.
What evidence do I present?
As with most legal decisions, eligibility for appeal does not lie with your client’s dissatisfaction with the ruling. An appeal does not retry the divorce or allow your client to offer new evidence to support his or her arguments. Instead, you will be attempting to demonstrate to the appellate court that the original divorce trial involved mistakes or improprieties. To that end, the kind of evidence you will present includes the following:
- Transcripts and audio recordings of the lower court divorce trial
- Any lower court documents related to the divorce
- All evidence presented at the lower court trial
- The brief you prepare for the appeal
When you are ready to file for an appeal, you must certify that you provided opposing counsel with all the information, documents, briefs and other items related to the lower court trial and your client’s appeal. Opposing counsel will also provide you with essential documentation.
What happens next?
In the appellate process, you will probably not present the evidence in a courtroom. Instead, a panel of judges will review the documentation you present, and the panel will render a decision about whether they believe the ruling of the lower court was valid. This is why it is imperative that your brief and documentation be as thorough and clean as possible.
Often, family law attorneys who do not frequently handle appellate work turn to their colleagues who have success in this area. It is especially helpful if an appeal lawyer has experience in family law courts.