How to File Appeals of Florida Family Court Judgments
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
The First Things You Need to Know Before Filing a Family Law Appeal
If you are considering filing an appeal of the final judgment in a Florida family court case, you need to know these three facts about its process to make informed and timely decisions: (1) file the notice of appeal and pay the fee within 30 days of the final judgment, (2) file the initial brief within 70 days of the notice and (3) an appeal is not a rehearing of the original family court case. Here is why:
(1) File Notice Of Appeal and Pay Fee Within 30 Days Of The Final Judgment
Appeals to the Florida District Courts 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, you must file a “notice of appeal” with the family court that conducted their trial. The notice merely announces to the family court, the opposing party, and eventually, the appellate court, that you are appealing its court’s order. It does not include any arguments or even the reasons for your action.
Due to its simplicity, the appellate rules of procedure establish this firm deadline for filing notice: 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 this notice without the accompanying fee. If you fail to properly file it by the deadline, you waive your right to appeal the trial court judgment forever. Therefore, make certain that you file your notice of appeal on time before worrying about the other details.
(2) File The Initial Brief Within 70 Days of the Notice
Once you file the notice, you, or your family law appeals attorney, have 70 days to file the initial brief. It should contain the best legal arguments for 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 Courts 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 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 Rehearing
First-time appellant clients tend to believe that the district court 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 Florida District Courts of Appeal 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 appeals attorney can often uncover a handful of factual and legal errors that can be appealed if in possession of a comprehensive final judgment document from the family court and/or a transcript of that court's proceedings.
How We Can Help
If you are considering hiring a family law appeals attorney to appeal your 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: (1) you will explain the case that you want to appeal, (2) 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 $3,600 and $6,000 depending on their level of complexity. For non-final orders they are between $2,400 and $4,800. See Family Lawyer Retainer Fees for more information.