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When a court order or verdict has been handed down that you are not in agreement with, you have the right to file an appeal. An appeal sends a request to a higher court, asking for a review of your case and for the judgment to be changed or reversed. If you or a loved one needs help to appeal a court’s decision in a family law case, contact Twyford Law Office. Have your case reviewed for free by calling (509) 327-0777 or get in touch with us online.
Unless spouses can reach an amicable agreement on all the issues surrounding a divorce, the outcome will be uncertain as it will be left up to a family law judge. It may result in one or neither spouse being wholly satisfied with the results and they may want the court order or verdict reviewed by the higher court. However, there is no guarantee that the appeals court will come to a different conclusion.
In the United States, appealable divorce and family law matters may involve issues related to property distribution, maintenance, child custody, and more. There must be grounds for the appeal; it cannot only be based on the fact of not liking a court’s decision. These grounds may include:
Both temporary orders, as well as final decisions after the completion of a trial, can be appealed. A “stay” or delay of an order’s enforcement may also be requested, pending the outcome of the appeal.
Contact a Spokane family law appeals attorney to begin the process as soon as a specific order is handed down that you would like to appeal, rather than waiting for the divorce to be finalized as a whole. In Washington state, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days once the order is given. The same time limit applies to temporary orders as well.
Filing an appeal is not an opportunity for a second trial. Still, it gives you the ability to ask the Court of Appeals to either overturn a decision made by a lower court or order a retrial based on the proper application of the law to the facts in the case.
Filing the Appeal
First, you must file notice of appeal with the trial court and pay the filing fee. The notice of appeal should include:
A copy of the written order from which the appeal is being made should also be attached to the notice of appeal. The same day you file your appeal, you must also serve a copy of the notice to the other side. After which, a copy of proof of service must be filed with the appellate court named in the notice.
Record for Review
Within 30 days of filing the appeal or once the case is granted discretionary review, you must file pleadings that explain the basis for your appeal, written testimony, exhibits, other documents you filed with the court, and the “report of proceedings.” The report of proceedings is a transcript of the oral argument and testimony given in the superior court. The other side also has the opportunity to appeal parts of the judge’s decision and file pleadings in response.
Within 45 days of the report being filed, you must create and file a brief or, essentially, a written argument on why the trial court’s decision was wrong. The opposing side then has 30 days to file an optional responding brief. The appellate court will then review your petition and determine whether to rule based on your written statement or hear your case in person.
Oral Argument (sometimes)
This step is rare, but the Appeals Court may require an in-person hearing for oral arguments to take place in front of three appellate judges. Each side’s attorney will defend their positions and answer any questions related to their briefs.
There is no timeline for how long the Appeals Court will take to issue its decision, but generally, the superior court’s decision will either be affirmed or reversed. If either party disagrees with the court’s opinion, they have the option to file a motion to reconsider (within 20 days) or petition for review by the Supreme Court (within 30 days).
The family law appeals process typically takes between 12 to 18 months, from when you first file notice to when a decision is rendered. However, this period will extend approximately six months if either party files a Petition for Review by the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does accept the case for review, it can take an additional six months to a year to obtain a final decision.
A lawyer will have the experience and knowledge needed to represent you at all stages of divorce and family law appeals. On your behalf, they will handle:
Your Spokane divorce lawyer will have a comprehensive understanding of matrimonial and family law, as well as how the appellate courts have interpreted those laws in the past, which can benefit you in obtaining a favorable court order.
Family law matters and appeals are often complex. At Twyford Law Office, we will take the time to review your case and determine which options are available and best for you. Schedule a free consultation for a family law appeal by calling (509) 327-0777 or getting in touch with us online, so we may start on this time-sensitive issue.