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Anyone who’s ever been through a divorce knows how many big decisions need to be made when separating two lives from each other. This is made even more complicated when there are children involved and you must come to agreements about child custody and support. It can be hard to be forced to make these choices that affect the rest of your life, and many times a judge will be required to make these choices for you if you can’t come to an agreement with your spouse. In cases where you feel the judge came to the wrong conclusion or made a mistake, you may be able to file for an appeal with the courts.

For help with your family law appeal, give us a call at Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C. serving individuals in Glendale & Tucson, Arizona, or anyone throughout the Phoenix Metro Area. We’re here to help you and your family move forward.

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What Decisions Can Be Appealed?

Most decisions made by a judge in a family law proceeding can be appealed, but this should only be a last resort if you’re unhappy with the result. If you’re able to discuss matters with an ex-spouse or co-parent and come to a new agreement, the courts will generally approve it. Or, you may be able to file a request for modification with the trial court for things like changes to child support or custody and this can generally be handled by the original judge. However, if you feel the judge made a mistake such as overlooking key evidence, committing a legal error, or if you’ve discovered that your ex-spouse was hiding certain information from you that would make a material change in the judge’s decision, you can appeal.

Depending on your circumstances, this could be an asset division appeal, child custody appeal, child support appeal, spousal support appeal, or paternity appeal. In all these cases, you won’t be requesting an entirely new trial; rather, you’ll be asking an appellate court to re-examine the existing evidence to determine if an error was made and if the original judge’s decision should be reversed and revised. It’s worth noting that you also have to bring forth a specific point of contention to file an appeal; you cannot simply say you don’t like what the judge decided.

Appellate Timelines

Importantly, you won’t have a lot of time to file an appeal with the courts after a final judgment has been handed down. In Arizona, this must be done within 30 days of the entry of judgment, and it’s always in your best interest to only pursue this with the help of a skilled family law attorney with experience in the appeals process. If you miss this deadline, the courts are likely to throw out your request completely.

Appeals Process Overview

After you formally file your appeal with the court, you’ll have to prepare your “record of appeal” which is essentially all the court documents pertaining to your original trial. This includes a transcript of the proceedings which you’ll have to obtain on your own as well as copies of all divorce documents and evidence. Next, you and your attorney will work together to draft your appellate brief which states your legal reasoning for filing the appeal along with any pertinent evidence. After your brief has been submitted, you may be scheduled for an oral argument in which you’ll present your case in front of a three-judge panel (note that this will not include the original judge who presided over your case). After the appellate court has had time to review your case, they will issue you their decision which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Possible Outcomes

Because the appellate court is not hearing a brand new case, their decision will only pertain to what should be done (or not done) regarding the original trial and they have a few options. First, they may decide to affirm the lower court’s decision, meaning they agree with the first judge and no changes will be made to the judgment. Second, they may decide to reverse the lower court’s verdict, meaning they agree with you that a mistake was made or certain new evidence demands a revised decision. If they do reverse the decision, they have two choices: they can remand the decision, which means your case is sent back to the lower court for reconsideration. Or, they can modify the decision and issue an amendment that addresses your grievance.

Family Law Appeal Attorneys in Glendale & Tucson, Arizona

If you’re looking for a family law attorney who can help you learn more about your options for filing an appeal, reach out to us at Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C. in Glendale & Tucson, Arizona. We’re committed to providing personalized service to all our clients and ensuring they stay informed and educated about the process every step of the way.