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Appealing a Court-Ordered Custody Ruling

Family courts are obligated to make child custody determinations that are in the child’s best interest. However, despite their best efforts, sometimes the court gets this decision wrong. As a parent, you have the right to appeal a court-ordered custody ruling if you believe that the decision is not in your child’s best interests, and it is important to understand how the process works as well as what is considered when appealing a child custody ruling.


What Rulings can be Appealed?

Understanding the laws of your state is critical to appealing a court-ordered child custody ruling, and an experienced family law attorney in your area is your best advocate in these matters. Typically, only final orders of custody can be appealed, which usually happen after a custody hearing where a judge has listened to the merits of all arguments and rendered a final court order.

The custody order must be complete, meaning that there are no outstanding issues, and final, which means that there are no other court dates for custody scheduled. Interlocutory rulings on custody, where a temporary order is made pending the final outcome of the custody hearing, usually cannot be appealed by a parent.


How to Appeal a Child Custody Ruling

If you decide to appeal a final child custody ruling, hiring a lawyer is your best chance of success. A lawyer understands the appeal process and what the court will consider when rendering a judgment. The first step in appealing an order is to draft a brief that will be submitted to the court, detailing your arguments as to why the initial child custody ruling was incorrect and what you believe the actual custody ruling should be.

The attorney will submit this brief to the court, and the other parent will have an opportunity to respond. The court will consider the brief and hear oral arguments from each side before rendering a ruling on the custody issue. It is important to understand that the appellate court will consider the same factors as the family court judge. The key issue is highlighting why the family court did not properly rule on the best interests of your child. New witnesses or evidence is not allowed at the appellate level.

Appeals only consider the evidence that was submitted at the time of the family court ruling. An appeal is different than a request for modification, so it is important that you understand the differences before moving forward with your case. A lawyer will be able to review your family situation and advise you on the best path forward to resolve your child custody issues.


A Family Law Attorney can Help

An experienced family law attorney can help answer any questions you have about appealing a final child custody order and the next steps in moving forward with that process. If you have questions, call or contact our office today.

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