Rehear or Appeal a Family Court Judgment? That Is the Question
By Family Law Appeals Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
We Can Represent You In Appeals Anywhere In Florida
Should I Request a Rehearing, an Appeal or Both?
When presented with an unfavorable ruling, family law clients begin exploring their options for relief. Their family court lawyers will often advise them to either file a motion for rehearing, appeal the family court order or judgment, or do both. Here are the most frequently asked questions I receive about these two legal actions:
How Long Do I have After the Final Judgment to File Motions for Rehearing and for an Appeal?
A litigant has 10 calendar days after the issuance of the written final judgment to file a motion for rehearing and 30 calendar days from that judgment to file a notice of appeal. These are strict deadlines. If you fail to meet them you forever waive the right to pursue these options. However, if a party files a timely motion for rehearing, the deadline to file the notice of appeal is tolled (suspended) until the resolution of the motion for rehearing.
How Difficult Is It to Win on Motions for Rehearing, and for an Appeal?
While it is somewhat difficult to win appeals of final judgments, it is virtually impossible to overturn one through a motion for rehearing. The legal standards are completely different. An appellate court can consider a family court’s legal errors de novo. This means that it does not grant the trial judge any deference on legal interpretations. But family court judges receive considerable deference for their factual conclusions. Therefore appeals almost always have to be based on pointing to errors of legal interpretation, not of facts, because legal errors are what Florida's District Courts of Appeal review.
In contrast, a family court judge can only grant a motion for rehearing if new evidence is presented that could not have been discovered before the trial using due diligence. In other words, you will not convince a trial judge to reverse himself or herself based on the same evidence you presented at the trial. Since truly new evidence (as opposed to pre-existing evidence that was simply overlooked) rarely surfaces within 10 days after the trial, motion for rehearing are seldom granted. In fact, in my many years of practicing family law, I have yet to see a motion for rehearing overturn a family court judgment.
Do I Need to File a Motion for Rehearing First in Order to File an Appeal?
For family law trials the answer is that no motion for rehearing is needed before an appeal (Florida Rule of Procedure 1.530(e)). A family law litigant can simply file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the final judgment is issued.
If Motions for Rehearings Are So Unsuccessful Why File Them?
There is no reason to file them. Motions for family law rehearings are needless expenditures of time and money (unless there is new evidence). You are better served by proceeding directly to the appeal.
How Do I Schedule A Consultation With A Lawyer?
If you have any questions about motions for rehearing or appeal of family court cases, I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule a thirty-minute consultation by phone or at our Altamonte Springs office.
At the consultation I will listen to your explanation of why you are considering a rehearing or an appeal. Then I will present you with a plan of legal action if one is required. And if it is required, I will quote you my attorney retainer fee for your case. This will be a flat or fixed fee, not an hourly rate, whose total cost cannot be known in advance.
Our attorney retainer fees for appeals of final orders in Florida are 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.