Georgia Attorneys for Child Custody Appeals
You and your spouse received a child custody order from the court when you divorced, but you have major concerns with how decisions were made and other aspects of the process. You may also feel that the order is not in your child’s best interest, and you believe that errors or inaccuracies helped influence the court’s decision. Since this decision will affect your relationship with your children for years to come, you now wonder about your options for seeking a resolution.
You can appeal a lower court’s ruling on your case and try to obtain an outcome you believe is fairer. However, you must understand that the appeals process is complex, and you can only seek a modification or change in your child custody order under specific circumstances.
For help with appealing your child custody order or any other legal issues you have related to your divorce or your family, you contact the Atlanta child custody and visitation attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC at (404) 688-8810 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Appealing Your Child Custody Order
The State of Georgia allows either party in a divorce to appeal a judgment, decision, or decree from the court. The appeals process is an important part of the legal system, and it allows people to challenge a previous ruling regarding their cases if they are not satisfied that they received a fair and unbiased decision.
However, you cannot appeal a decision simply because you did not like the outcome or because you “lost” your case. In fact, the state does not look favorably on those who file appeals that seem frivolous, and you may incur fees and other penalties from the court if you try to file an appeal on unfounded grounds.
Georgia has specific requirements regarding when parties can appeal a ruling, and they are as follows:
- Evidence and testimony were improperly excluded or included.
- There were factual errors in the case.
- The judge made an error in interpreting the law and rendering a decision.
- The court procedures were not followed properly or were violated.
- You received ineffective or misguided counsel.
You may also file an appeal if you believe there was a conflict of interest with the attorney who represented you in your divorce or the judge who issued the ruling.
Generally, family law appeals may be direct or discretionary. You may also file an interlocutory appeal that challenges a non-final order made while proceedings are ongoing.
A discretionary appeal is one in which you must petition the appellate court for an appeal, and the court will determine whether it will hear the appeal or not. Issues such as child support, visitation, and relocation usually fall into this category.
The other kind of appeal is a direct appeal, and you do not have to request the appellate court’s permission. Most child custody cases in Georgia can be directly appealed, and the appellate court must hear your argument if you believe an error in judgment led to the court’s decision.
In either case, you must file your petition for an appeal within 30 days after your divorce decree was finalized, and you must file with the proper court. This is why you should consult with a lawyer who has experience handling appeals in Georgia as soon as possible.
Just because the appellate court will hear your argument against your child custody agreement does not mean they will overturn the ruling. The appellate court may rule in any of the following ways:
- Reverse or vacate the decision of the lower court
- Affirm the lower court’s decision
- Remand the case back to the lower court
After filing your appeal, you will have to provide a copy to the other party, and you and your attorney must then start preparing your argument. The following are the steps in the process:
- Obtain official transcripts of the court hearing
- Create an outline that states the basis for your appeal
- Develop a written brief and an oral argument for the appeal
- File the brief and present your argument
The other party may respond to your argument, and you and your attorney will go before a panel of three judges to have your appeal heard. They will review your case and render a final decision based on the decision of the majority of the judges.
Successfully Handling an Appeal
An appeal is not a new trial or a retrial, and the court will not allow new evidence or hear new witness testimony in most cases. Your appellate attorney will draft a written brief that details the errors made in your first case and how they affected its outcome. They will then present that argument orally in front of the judge’s panel.
Appellate law is a highly specialized legal area, and some trial attorneys are not well-versed in the process. The following are some of the things you need to look for in an appellate attorney:
- They will carefully and completely review all transcripts from your previous trial to identify errors. That means they would review pre-trial motions, witness testimony, evidence, and judicial rulings.
- They can draft a written brief and develop an oral argument that is compelling and will work in your favor.
- They have extensive experience handling appeals with a documented record of successful results.
You must also understand that the appeals process can take a long time, more than a year in many instances, so you also need to choose someone you can work with, and someone who you feel has your and your child’s best interests at heart.
The attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC have more than 30 years of collective experience successfully handling appeals for our clients across Georgia, and we can sit with you and fully discuss your rights and options regarding your child custody appeal.
You can trust we will make your needs and goals and your child’s best interests our top priorities as we assist you in your efforts to get the results you expect and deserve. Contact us today at (404) 688-8810 to request a confidential consultation.