Why Family Law Cases Should Use Court Reporters
By Florida Family Law Appeals Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
AAA Family Law Can Represent You In Family Law Appeals Anywhere In Florida
Hiring A Court Reporter Is Up To The Litigant
We discussed in Family Law Appeal Process the process for filing an appeal. I want to now elaborate on a vital part of the family law appeals process: the hiring of a court reporter for the family court trial. That is the person in the courtroom busily typing on a shorthand device everything that is said during the hearing or trial. Most people do not realize is that court reporters are neither mandatory nor supplied by the family court. It is up to one of the individual litigants to hire and pay them.
Hiring A Court Reporter Is Useful in Case of An Appeal of the Family Court Judgment
If it is not mandatory, then when should a family law litigant hire a court reporter? I advise my clients to hire one whenever a judicial ruling or magistrate’s recommendation can be potentially appealed, which is quite often in family law. In fact, the only rulings that are not subject to appeal are temporary orders not relating to time-sharing.
Benefits of Hiring A Court Reporter
First, if the judge issues a ruling containing significant legal errors, the court reporter’s transcript is the best record of these mistakes. While it is not impossible to overturn an erroneous order without this transcript, the absence of one make a successful appeal extremely difficult. In fact, unless the trial court’s legal error is self-evident on the face of the order or judgment itself, (which is rare) an appeals court will not even consider a reversal without a transcript.
Think of the transcript as “insurance” against a bad ruling. Also, the mere presence of a court reporter tends to keep family court judges honest. In my many years as a family law attorney, I have seen many judges rule in a more cavalier manner when no record of the hearing will be available. I realize that this observation may stir some controversy, but I have witnessed too many examples of this to believe otherwise. Thus, even if you don’t plan on appealing, placing a court reporter at your proceeding will probably lead to a more just outcome.
While the hiring of a court reporter is ultimately the family law client’s final decision, I recommend doing so for most family court hearings and trials. It’s well worth the modest investment.
How AAA Family Law Can Help
If you have any questions on this subject, or you simply need advice on a family law matter, call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation with me at our Altamonte Springs office, north of Winter Park or by phone.
At the consultation I will: (1) listen to your explanation of the family situation you are in, (2) outline a road map of what legal actions I would take to protect your interests and (3) quote you fixed (or flat) attorney retainer fee.
Our retainer fees for family law appeals of final orders in Florida range between $3,600 and $6,000 depending on their level of complexity. For non-final orders they are between $2,400 and $4,800. See Our Retainer Fee Policies for more information on the costs of our services.
AAA Family Law can represent you in Florida family law appeal cases, such as divorce, child custody and support, paternity, DCF child dependency, domestic violence or property distribution.
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