If you obtain an outcome in your family law dispute that you believe is unjust, appealing your case may enable you to have it heard by a different judge and receive a better result. However, appealing the outcome of your case also comes with certain risks - risks you need to understand if you want to be sure appealing is the right decision. Today, we're discussing whether you should appeal your family law dispute.
At DeTommaso Law Group, we can help you through the appeals process. To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (908) 274-3028.
How Does Appealing Family Law Cases Work in NJ?
In New Jersey, you have the right to appeal the outcome of a family law case for up to 45 days after the court issues its initial judgment.
To appeal your family law case, you must file a Notice of Appeal with the appellate court in your area. You can file for an appeal if:
- You believe the court made an error in procedure, such as failing to respect your legal rights, filing documents incorrectly, etc;
- You believe the court made a legal error in its ruling or the other party did not accurately present their case, ignoring precedent, committing perjury, etc;
- You believe the evidence presented in the case was insufficient to warrant the outcome.
Importantly, you cannot bring new evidence to the appellate court during the appeals process. Your appeal can only be based on evidence the court has already received and processed.
Once you file your appeal, the appellate court will hear your case. This is crucial because it allows you to present your arguments for a different judge. If you believe the judge's bias in your family law case played a role in the ruling you receive, this can help you get a different take from a more unbiased perspective.
After hearing your case, the appellate court will issue its own judgment. The court may choose to:
- Uphold the lower court's ruling, resulting in no change for your case;
- Reverse the lower court's ruling, resulting in a different outcome for your case;
- Reverse the lower court's ruling and remand for further proceedings, resulting in the family law court holding a new trial or adjusting the details of the decision to reflect the appellate court's rulings.
Should I Appeal My Family Law Case?
It's not hard to understand the benefits of a successful appeal: You could potentially receive a completely different outcome for your case if the appellate court agrees with your appeal and chooses to order the family law court to reverse its ruling or reverse and remand further proceedings.
However, appealing a family law case also comes with several risks:
- The continued costs of litigation. Litigating a family law dispute in court is rarely cheap. By appealing, you extend the amount of time the case spends in the court system, resulting in more legal fees for yourself. You may be able to recoup some legal fees as a result of your appeal, but there's no guarantee.
- Appealing may not mean the end of your case. If the appellate court orders remand for further proceedings, your legal battle will continue in the lower court. While this could help you obtain a more favorable outcome, it could also ultimately work against you depending on the circumstances of your case.
- The establishment of a bad precedent. If the appellate court disagrees with the motive behind your appeal, it could set a legal precedent that further hamstrings your efforts to obtain a different outcome.
Ultimately, choosing to file an appeal for a family law case can be - and often is - a high-risk, high-reward decision.
At DeTommaso Law Group, our appeals attorneys can help you understand whether filing an appeal is truly the right decision in your case. To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (908) 274-3028.