This is the next post in my series on filing a family law appeal in San Bernardino, California. My last article discusses the difference between attending trial and an appeal. It is important to understand that appeals are not a “do over.” The Court will not consider new evidence or hear new arguments. Instead, an Appellate Court’s concern is whether a mistake of law was made during the Trial Court’s hearing of your case. In this post, I will be discussing the process of filing an appeal following a divorce, a child custody dispute, or some other family law matter. It is important to understand that this is a complicated process and that you should retain an experienced appellate attorney to assist you.
California Family Court appeals begin by filing a “Notice of Appeal.” This is a short document which says little more than the fact that you intend to appeal the Judge’s decision. The Notice must be filed within sixty days of the Order which you are appealing. This is a “hard deadline” in that, if you miss the sixty-day window, you will lose your right to appeal under almost all circumstances. Shortly after the Notice is filed, the Appellant (the party initiating the appeal) will file a “Designation of the Record.” This is where Counsel will state which Court documents, hearing transcripts, and exhibits will be part of the appellate record. The next step will be the filing of the Opening Brief. The responding party will file an Opposition and the Appellant will then file a Reply.
The Court may or may not hold an oral argument. Such argument (which is where the attorneys argue the case before the Appellate Judges) are typically only held if the Judges have specific questions which they want answered. Such questions often arise if the appeal presents a legal issue which is novel or if the Court is considering changing existing California law. After the oral argument a period of time will pass and the Court will issue its decision. If no argument is held then the Court will issue its decision some time after the final briefs are filed.
It is important to understand that all of the above parts of the appellate process take place during a strict time frame. Failing to timely file a Designation of Record, or the Opening Brief, can result in an appeal being dismissed. It is crucial that residents of our area retain a lawyer who is familiar with this process to ensure that matters are handled appropriately.
I am an experienced San Bernardino family law appeals attorney. If you are unhappy with the Court’s decision, then you only have a limited amount of time in which you may take action. Call my office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.