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Appealing a Family Law Decision: What You Need to Know

Family law matters are complex and regulated by a seemingly countless number of laws. Because of this complexity, judges are not infallible and could make an error when making a decision or ruling regarding your case. When this happens, you may have the option of appealing the decision, which can result in the decision being reversed, or the issue being re-litigated. However, you can only appeal in certain situations, and appeals follow a very specific process. Here are a few things you need to know before pursuing this option. 


The first thing you should know about the appeals process isn't whether you can appeal your case (in most instances you can), but whether or not you should. Appeals are generally only advisable when you firmly believe that the judge in your case ruled with biased prejudice or error in their knowledge of the law that had a negative impact on the decision in your case. If you don't think this way, but you just don't like the outcome, odds are your appeal will be thrown out well before it ever even reaches an appellate court and the original decision will stand. If it somehow does reach the appellate court, odds are it's not going to be reversed, and you'll have just wasted a bunch of time and money.

In an appeal case, you are not allowed to present any new evidence or arguments that could sway the judge in your favor. An appeal is essentially a reconsideration of your case on a higher level by a different judge that simply determines whether or not the previous judge ruled in error, whether by poor judgement or bias. So in order for your appeal to be successful, you and your Murrieta family law attorney need to be able to demonstrate how you were wronged by the initial verdict, where you believe the judge was in error, and why you believe that to be the case.


California has a strict 60-day deadline to file for an appeal once you have been served a "Notice of Entry," showing that the decision on your case has been entered into the public record. You can also extend this time by either filing for a new trial, or filing a motion to vacate the judgement. When you file for your appeal, you'll then have to submit any transcripts from family court hearings that were held, and a written brief explaining your reasoning for the appeal.

The appeals process can take as much as a whole year to complete, but once the process finishes the appellate court will issue a decision regarding the decision, either affirming the correctness of the initial decision, or reversing the lower court's decision and mandating a re-trial.

In each case, it's strongly advised you have a Murrieta family law attorney on your side who is experienced with appellate court matters. If you need assistance, call Westover Law Group today at (951) 643-0085 for a case evaluation.


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