Child custody cases are difficult due to the nature of the subject. A family law court will always rule in the best interest of the child. It’s important to note that an appeals court will not review a case just because one party disagrees with what the judge decided. If you feel your child custody agreement was arrived at because the court made a substantive error (either procedural or legal) you are able to appeal the court’s decision. Here’s how to appeal a child custody ruling.
Work with a Family Law Attorney
Working with a family law attorney will help you prove your case. In the case of appealing an already decided agreement, the family law attorney will need to prove that the previous decision was arrived at inaccurately due to a legal error or a procedural error.
Rules of Your Jurisdiction
Every state has different rules that given child custody cases and appeals. A family law attorney will be familiar with the rules of your specific jurisdiction and will be able to help guide you through the process. If you are not working with a family law attorney, you will need to research the rules on your own. These jurisdiction rules govern what your timeline is for filing an appeal to your child custody case, as well as exact guidelines for what should be contained in the petition to appeal. You can find these rules online or at your local courthouse.
Prepare an Appellate Petition
Next, you will need to prepare an appellate petition. This petition outlines why you are appealing the current child custody decision, as well as lists the errors that the lower court made when deciding on your child custody decision. If you are not working with a family law attorney, you might want to have the petition you fill out reviewed by one, just to ensure it has been done correctly. Next, you will file this petition with the court, as well as have a notification of the filing served to your opposing party.
Review of Appellate Petition
The court will then review the appellate petition and decide whether or not to hear your child custody appeal. If the court decides to hear your case, you will need to prepare a brief that explains your reasons for appealing the initial child custody agreement. This brief should include the lower court’s rules, case law, and all the facts that were presented in the initial custody hearing. A judge will review this and offer a final decision.
Source: eHow, Preparing a Child Custody Appeal, 2014
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