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Appealing A Child Custody Ruling


Divorcing parents are generally encouraged to work together to come up with their own parenting plan, which includes details not only about how the parents will divide physical time with their child, but how they will share responsibility for childcare-related decision making. Reaching such an agreement is not, however, always possible, in which case a judge will make the ultimate decision on those issues. While it is possible to appeal a judge’s custody ruling, doing so can be difficult, so if you are unhappy with a judge’s parenting plan or believe that a legal mistake was made, it is important to reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer for help before moving forward with your case.

Grounds for Appeal

While family law judges do their best to make rulings that are both legally sound and in a child’s best interests, mistakes can and do happen. Fortunately, if a legal mistake occurs during a child custody case, a parent can appeal the ruling in the state’s District Court of Appeals. Besides a legal mistake, parents can also appeal a family law court’s decision if there is:

  • Evidence of fraud;
  • Proof of concealment of pertinent information by the other parent; or
  • Newly discovered evidence that affects the case.

When a case is appealed, these issues will be brought before a panel of three appellate judges, who will be tasked with reviewing the case for these specific kinds of problems. If such an error is discovered, the court will then assess whether that mistake negatively impacted the case’s outcome. If the error did impact the case, the appellate court will issue a written opinion reversing the lower court’s order. If, however, the court agrees with the trial court’s decision, it will issue a notice confirming the original order.

Filing an Appeal

To initiate the appeals process, a person will need to file a Notice of Appeal with the court that issued the original judgement within 30 days of the judge’s decision. Later, the person filing the appeal will be required to file an initial brief stating the grounds and arguments for appeal. This step must be taken within 70 days of filing the Notice of Appeal. At this point, the opposing counsel will be given the opportunity to submit an answering brief, after which the appellant will have 30 additional days to submit a reply brief. After these exchanges have taken place, the parties will need to prepare for oral arguments in the district’s appellate court, where both sides will have the opportunity to argue their cases.

Working with an Attorney During the Appeals Process

If you believe that a mistake was made during your original custody dispute, you should speak with an attorney who can help determine whether you have grounds for appeal and who can also help you prepare and file the necessary briefs. To discuss these issues with an experienced Florida child custody lawyer or to determine whether there are other solutions that could be a better fit for your situation, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.



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