What is an appeal?

In your divorce or family court case, you may wish to appeal a final decision of the court if you feel that an error has been made or an abuse of discretion has occurred.  When you appeal, you are asking a higher court to review and examine the court order or decision to see if a mistake has been made.  You made appeal because you believe that a mistake of fact has been made in the case.  For example, you might believe that the court did not understand certain facts or placed an incorrect amount of weight on their significance when making a determination. You may also appeal because you believe that the court incorrectly applied the law to your particular case. However, you made not appeal your case simply because you are unsatisfied with the outcome.  

An appeal can only be made on a final decision, meaning that all decisions have been made and there are no more court dates on the calendar.  An appeal must be made within 30 days of the issuance of a final decision.  If an appeal is not timely filed, your court order is considered final and you may give up your rights to an appeal.  It is important to consult with a family law attorney who is well versed in the laws of divorce and family law in Florida before this 30 day time period has lapsed.  When an appeal is heard, it will typically be done by a panel of three judges who will review the facts of the case through the trial records, the briefs of the appellant (the person filing the appeal) and the respondent (the party responding to the appeal).  Either party may request that oral arguments be presented to the panel of judges although this request is not always granted. It is important to note that this is not an opportunity to introduce new facts or evidence to the judges, simply a chance to argue your grounds for appeal.  If the appellate judges have found an abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court judge or a misapplication of the law to the facts of your case, the trial court’s decision may be overturned. Please note that this is an oversimplification of how the appeals process works and if your case requires this you should seriously consider having legal skilled representation to help you with this, and The Joseph Firm is willing to help.