Once you have made the decision to appeal the ruling in your family law case, you need to prepare yourself for the appellate court. This experience is very different from the one you have just had in the family court, so it is worth preparing yourself. Here is a short guide to what to expect.

The process

The side that files the appeal is called the appellant, while the opposing side is called the respondent. The appellant asks the court to review the records of the original trial and determine whether there has been a legal mistake that has affected the outcome of the case. The appellant and their legal counsel must be able to prove that there has been a prejudicial error or that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence. It is very important to remember that an appeal is not a retrial.

The basics of appealing a court decision

Once the process is started with the filing of a notice of appeal, the appellant’s aim is to submit a written – sometimes also oral – argument to prove that the court decision was made in error. The appellate lawyer will write a brief and submit it to the court, together with the records of the original trial. You will then have to await the appellate court’s decision, which can take up to several months.

Winning an appeal and winning your case are not the same things

It is very important to remember that an appellate court cannot provide you with a different decision from the one the family court made. The only thing it can do, if your appeal is successful, is refer the case back to the original court for reconsideration or for a new trial. If you win your appeal, you will then have to return to family court and continue arguing your case there in order to change the outcome. 

Westover Law Group is a company of family law attorneys serving Southern California. Our appellate lawyers are capable of taking your appeal through the appellate system, provided you have a strong case. Contact us to see how we can help you appeal a child maintenance decision.