Kessler on the Appeals Process



Appeals FAQs     

I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my domestic relations case. Can I file an appeal?
Possibly. Your ability to file an appeal depends on the nature your case. Certain cases are subject to direct appeal procedures, which means that Georgia law grants you the right to appeal. Other cases are subject to discretionary appeal procedures, which means that you must request and be given permission to file an appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court or the Georgia Court of Appeals.

I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my divorce case. Can I file an appeal?
For the past few years, the Supreme Court of Georgia has implemented a Pilot Project for cases involving divorce and/or alimony. Under the Pilot Project, discretionary applications for appeal, which are timely filed from the final judgment and decree of divorce, will be automatically granted unless the application is found to be frivolous by the Court. The Court will deny frivolous applications, and the applicant as well as his or her attorney may be assessed a penalty of up to $2,500.00. Please check with an attorney to ensure this process is still in existence or has not been modified by the time you wish to file an appeal.

The court ordered to me to pay an amount of child support which I believe is too high. Can I file an appeal?
Child support cases are subject to discretionary appeal procedures, which means that you must request and be given permission from the appellate court to file an appeal. Time is of the essence and if you want to appeal, you should hire a lawyer immediately after you learn of the result you wish to challenge. In our firm, we require a new retainer to be paid within five (5) days of the date of the Order to be appealed. Once a "Change of Conditions" occurs, either party may file a request that the amount be modified, but that person must wait at least two (2) years to file a modification request from the date of the last Order on a previous request for modification by the same person.

The court ordered my ex-husband to pay child support to me, but I think the amount is too low. Can I file an appeal?
Child support cases are subject to discretionary appeal procedures, which means that you must request and be given permission from the appellate court to file an appeal. Time is of the essence and if you want to appeal, you should hire a lawyer immediately after you learn of the result you wish to challenge. In our firm, we require a new retainer to be paid within five (5) days of the date of the Order to be appealed. Once a "Change of Conditions" occurs, either party may file a request that the amount be modified, but that person must wait at least two (2) years to file a modification request from the date of the last Order on a previous request for modification by the same person.

I am considering whether or not to file an appeal? How much time do I have to decide?
Generally, you must file your appeal or application for appeal within 30 days from the entry of a final order. If you hire an attorney to file the appeal, the attorney will need as much time as possible to prepare the appeal so hiring an attorney on the 29th day will likely make it impossible for the attorney to file an appeal. Our firm requires that we be hired and paid the agreed upon retainer within five (5) days of the complained of Order and that we be provided copies of all relevant documents. You will also be required to pay for the proceedings to be transcribed. That is a matter for you or your attorney to discuss with the Court Reporter from the proceeding. If there was no Court Reporter, it is very hard to appeal.

If I win an appeal, what happens next?
Many things can happen if you win an appeal. The appeals court can send the case back to the same judge to hear the whole case, or certain issues again. The appeals court can also give the trial judge specific instructions on legal issues and procedures to utilize when the judge rehears the case.

Can custody orders be appealed?
For cases filed on or after January 1, 2008, custody orders may now be more easily appealed because they are "directly appealable" which means they are no longer subject to the "discretionary appellate process". To review the statute, click here (HB369 - Custody Bill).

Are Child Custody Cases now directly appealable?
Yes, as of January 1, 2008, final custody orders are no longer subject to the "discretionary process". The new statute states that direct appeal is available for: "(11) All judgments or orders in child custody cases including, but not limited to, awarding or refusing to change child custody or holding or declining to hold persons in contempt of such child custody judgment or orders."

Do I need to have a transcript of the proceeding in order to appeal?
If there was no Court Reporter, it is very hard to appeal. While papers may be prepared and submitted to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court before the transcript is prepared, if there will be no transcript available (perhaps because neither side requested that a Court Reporter be present for the proceeding), it will be very difficult to appeal since the appellate court will have no official record of the proceeding.

Atlanta - Divorce Lawyer - Family Law - Atlanta Georgia