Should you appeal a decision of the court?

If the result of a trial wasn’t in your favor, what options do you have? How likely is the outcome to change? Will the result be better or worse?

Should You Appeal a Decision of the Court Transcript

Should you appeal a decision of the court? You’ve been through a trial that may have taken a day, two, three, maybe even weeks to get through. The judge considered the evidence, entered a ruling and unfortunately it came out against you. Most of my clients, practically every client who doesn’t get the outcome that they were hoping for turns to me and says, can we appeal? The answer is yes, you can but only in certain circumstances.

Appeals are not possible on temporary hearings. So, for instance if you’ve just lost a temporary child custody hearing then no, you can’t appeal that. You can only appeal final, permanent orders of the court. Not every case can be appealed and if you are going to appeal, you have a very short time period in which to make that decision. You’ve got to move forward, give notice of appeal fairly quickly after the ruling of the court.

So, if you’re not dealing with a temporary situation and you’ve acted quickly and not let your time expire then you absolutely have the right to appeal. Custody cases are the cases that I’m asked about most often when it comes to appeals and you should know that specifically in custody cases, the odds are very much against you. Custody cases have the lowest percentage of reversals by the appellate courts. They’re very, very tough to win. It’s much more realistic to think you might be successful with an appeal in an alimony case or a property division case or even a child support case. Custody cases are the toughest.

If you do appeal, recognize that it’s incredibly expensive. It’s going to cost you many thousands of dollars. In most instances, many tens of thousands of dollars. Also recognize that it’s a very lengthy process. An appeal will easily take a year, sometimes two years before it’s over and then finally understand that you’re not going to win an appeal simply because you don’t like the result. There must be grounds for winning the appeal.

The lower court judge, the trial court judge must have made an error of law. It can’t simply have ruled in a way you don’t like. They must have made a mistake for you to be successful in winning your appeal. So, should you appeal? Realistically, the chances of winning an appeal are generally slim. It’s very tough to win one of these cases that should go to the appellate court. It’s incredibly expensive. There are a lot of attorney’s fees involved.

What you’ve got to do is carefully analyze the legal issues, the financial issues and your personal issues and decide whether it ultimately makes sense for you to appeal. Most of the time we end up advising our clients to live with the result and to not go to the extra effort that it takes to present these issues to the appellate court. You’ve got to make that decision for yourself, but it’s a very difficult option.


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