Contested divorces can be especially difficult, not only because they are emotionally draining, they can be very expensive. This combination is often why so many contested divorces settle before trial. But for those who endure the entire process to a final decision, the losing party most likely will be dissatisfied and will want a higher court to review the trial court’s decision.
California law allows most family court matters to be appealed. This post will provide a brief introduction into what is required for appeals.
A legal basis for your appeal – Generally speaking, the most common ground for appeal are legal errors made by the court, and factual errors that were not previously corrected. A legal error means that the law was misapplied to your case and such an error led to a different, improper outcome. Conversely, a factual error is some mistake in the facts that the court used to decide your case (e.g., a discrepancy in child support calculated by the number of overnights awarded).
The court must have issued a prior ruling – If you did not raise an issue before the family court judge, you can’t ask the appeals court to rule on the issue. The appeals court can only address issues that were contested before the trial court.
Any appeal must be timely – California law requires an appeal to be filed either 60 days after being served with the family court’s decision or 180 days after the judgment was stamped “filed,” whichever comes first.
If you are considering an appeal, an experienced family law attorney can advise you. It is important that you quickly decide whether to appeal or not – or you may lose your right because you missed the deadlines!