The appeals process is fickle. Instead of preparing a case for appeal at the time of the appeal, you have to prepare during the trial. This is because you aren’t going to present new information for the appeal. Instead, appeals are based on a review of the information already presented at the trial. Here are some points to consider when taking a proactive stance to appeals in family law cases:
Document everything in the trial
Admitting everything that you have into evidence is imperative during the trial. Any oversight of this issue can mean that the appeals court won’t have the documentation necessary to back up claims that are made during the trial or as part of the appeal. It is easy to think that something is going to be insignificant. However, this is one time when it pays to be meticulous with evidence admission.
The evidence that you admit must be in compliance with all aspects of the Evidence Code. This can help you if you do end up appealing a ruling in the case. There is a chance that the appeals court won’t review evidence that doesn’t comply with this code, even if the error was on the trial court’s part.
Cover all significant matters during the trial
It is impossible to foresee all points of the case that might end up being at the center of a family law appeal. With this point in mind, it is crucial that you cover all important matters in the trial. There might be some points in the case that seem insignificant at the time of the trial. These can sometimes make a huge difference in the outcome of the case but that doesn’t matter during an appeal if the issue wasn’t already addressed.
If you forget to bring something up in a trial, you can’t bring it up during the appeals process. Only points raised during the trial are able to be handled during an appeal. It is a good idea to make a list of the points that you know need to be included in the trial. This gives you a hard document to refer to that you can use as a checklist during the trial.
Ultimately, preparation prior to the initial trial is much better than trying to figure out how to cover bases later. Keep this in mind as you prepare for a family law trial.