Family Law Appeals Facts To Know
By Florida Family Law Appeals Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2005
AAA Family Law Can Represent You In Family Law Appeals Anywhere In Florida
A prospective client considering filing a family law appeal in Florida needs to know these three facts to make informed and timely decisions
(1) File Notice Of Appeal and Pay Fee Within 30 Days Of The Final Judgment
Appeals to the Florida District Courts of Appeals consist of several steps, only one of which is the brief that contains the actual arguments. Before the initial brief or any other documents are filed, the appealing party must file a “notice of appeal” with the circuit court that conducted their trial. The notice of appeal is a simple document. It merely announces to the circuit court, the opposing party, and eventually the appellate court, that you are appealing the circuit court’s order. It does not include any arguments or even the reasons why you are appealing
Due to its simplicity, the appellate rules of procedure establish this firm deadline for filing notices of appeal: within 30 days of the issuance of the trail court's judgment. No exceptions are allowed. Furthermore, the appealing party must pay the initial filing fee (usually between $150 to $200) along with the notice. The circuit court will not accept the notice of appeal without the accompanying fee. If you fail to properly file this notice by the deadline, you waive your right to appeal the trial court judgment forever. Therefore, make certain that, when appealing your family law case, your notice of appeal is timely filed before worrying about the other details.
(2) File The Initial Brief Within 70 Days of the Notice
Once you file the notice of appeal, as the appellant (the party appealing the order), you have 70 days to file the initial brief. This is the “meat and potatoes” of your appeal. It should contain your best legal arguments why the trail court order should be reversed, as well as several other sections (e.g., table of contents, table of citations, statement of the case and facts, etc.).
The initial brief is, by far, be the longest and most labor-intensive of the appellate documents. Because it contains so many elements, the Florida district court of appeals will almost always grant a one-time extension of the 70-day deadline, if requested. The extensions typically range between 10 and 30 days. While our office strives to complete our family law appeal briefs before the deadline, we will seek a one-time extension if we believe that the brief’s quality will be compromised by rushing its completion.
(3) An Appeal Is Not A Retrial
The first-time appellant client tends to believe that the district court of appeal wants to reconsider everything that happened at the trial level. On the contrary, underlying the appellate process is the narrowing of the issues for the appellate court to consider. The appellate courts only want to focus on clear and impactful legal errors that the trial judge made or factual conclusions it reached that lack any substantial support. Interpretations of the evidence that you disagree with but that “could have gone either way” will not be reversed
In addition, legal errors, even ones that are unmistakable, will not lead to a reversal if they did not impact the final outcome. Having said that, a seasoned family law appellate lawyer can often uncover a handful of appealable factual and legal errors if in possession of a final judgment and a transcript of the trial court proceedings.
How We Can Help
If you are considering appealing a family law case call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation at our Altamonte Springs office or by phone. At the consultation: (a) you will explain the case that you want to appeal, (b) I will discuss what can be done under Florida family law and present you with a legal action plan. Then I will quote you a fixed retainer fee (not an hourly rate whose total cost is unpredictable).
Our retainer fees for family law appeals of final orders in Florida range between $3,000 and $5,000 depending on their level of complexity. For non-final orders they are between $2,000 and $4,000. See Family Lawyer Retainer Fees for more information.
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