Sometimes judges make mistakes. When this happens, there are a variety of procedural options available to try to correct judicial error, including filing an appeal. All of these options are time-sensitive and deciding whether to appeal can be quite challenging. Appeals are highly technical proceedings where even the slightest mistakes can result in denial of the entire appeal and an unsuccessful appeal can expose you to additional financial risks. If you believe your judge made a mistake in your case, we encourage you to act quickly and contact us to speak with an experienced attorney.

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Appeals can be extremely expensive, especially if you hire an hourly attorney. We are one of the only law firms in Scottsdale that offers fixed fees for full scope appellate representation. We handle everything, including oral argument and additional motion practice if necessary, for one transparent fee.

One of the most important things to understand is that appeals are not an opportunity to retry a case. No evidence or testimony is presented. An appeal simply asks the appellate court to review part(s) of the trial court record to determine if reversible error occurred and, if error occurred, whether it prejudiced the party who filed the appeal. Reversible error may include misapplication of the law or an abuse of judicial discretion.

Every appeal begins with a timely notice of appeal. This must be filed in the trial court case to preserve the right to appeal. It alerts the appellate court and starts the process of transmitting the trial court record for review. The exact procedure for the remaining steps varies some depending on the type of appeal. Appeals from Justice Court to Superior Court are a little different than appeals from Superior Court to the Court of Appeals. But both require the appealing party (referred to as the appellant) to file a legal brief explaining how the trial court erred and citing to the portions of the record necessary to provide context. Every legal argument must be supported by citation to legal authority. This can be a tremendous challenge for unrepresented appellants. Appeals are very technically nuanced and procedural mistakes can result in denial of the appeal. Once the opening brief is filed, the other party (referred to as the appellee) usually but not always files an answering brief. If you are an appellee, you should file an answering brief because courts have discretion to construe the absence of an answering brief as confession of error. Appellants have an opportunity to file a reply brief to address only the arguments raised in the answering brief. Parties may request oral argument if they believe it would be necessary or helpful to the appellate court.

So much of family law is left to the discretion of the trial judge. While this can be great for parties or attorneys who are very persuasive, it also leads to some difficult decisions. Sometimes judges reach conclusions that seem to conflict with the evidence and testimony presented. This may constitute a reversible abuse of discretion. Other times judges misapply the law and this, too, may be appealable. Our experienced family law attorneys help litigants bring and defend against family court appeals.

Below are some resources, including recent appellate decisions, to help you better understand how appeals work and the role of the appellate courts.

We offer free consultations to help you evaluate potentially appealable issues and all other procedural options available to accomplish your legal objectives.


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