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Why Would I Appeal A Family Law Matter?

If you feel the judge has made a mistake in your case, you may wish to file an appeal. An appeal may be considered if the trial judge made a mistake in the law or the facts of a case, did not resolve all of the issues in question, did not conduct the appropriate hearing, or abused his or her discretion in the case.

When Do I Appeal?

The big question in determining if it is the right time to appeal is whether there is a final order in the case. A final order is one that resolves all the issues between all of the parties in the case. When a family law matter is final, you have an automatic right to file an appeal. In general you must file a Notice of Appeal within 45 days of the final order in the case, though that number is shorter in certain cases.

If there is not a final order and the case is still pending, there is no automatic right to appeal but you may request permission to appeal. The process for seeking permission to appeal an interlocutory order begins with filing a Motion for Leave to Appeal.

How Do I Win The Appeal?

The question for the higher court on appeal is whether the trial judge’s findings could have been reasonably reached on sufficient evidence present in the record. Essentially, the question is whether the judge reached the decision based on the evidence presented at the trial.

Appeals Regarding Questions of Fact:

It is uncommon for an appellate court to reverse a lower court ruling on the basis of fact. On appeal, the appellate court will give the trial judge the discretion to determine which version events he finds to be most credible. Since the trial judge was able to hear witnesses testify, whereas the appellate court has to rely on written transcripts, the trial judge is most likely in the best position to determine who was telling the truth or who was most believable.

For example: Assume that the Plaintiff and Defendant presented different versions of the facts of the case, and that the Plaintiff’s version was untrue. Now assume that the trial judge believed the Plaintiff’s version of the facts, and entered a ruling consistent with that version of the facts. The judge’s decision will not be reversed on appeal in that case, because the judge reached a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence presented at trial.

Appeals Regarding Questions of Law:

On questions of law, unlike on questions of fact, the appellate court will review the application of the law without deference to the trial judge. The appellate court will look to see if the correct law was applied, and if so, whether it was applied correctly. If the trial judge made an error in the law, the appellate court may overturn the ruling, modify it, or direct the trial court to make changes.

How Much Will An Appeal Cost?

The filing fee is $300. Additional fees are necessary for the preparation of the transcript and building a collection of documents that are called the “record on appeal”. In addition, the attorney must research and write a brief and various other documents to assert your position to the court, which takes a significant amount of time and therefore is costly. It is difficult to estimate an average cost of the appeal, as it varies based on the specific circumstances of each case. However, appeals of family law matters are an expensive undertaking.

How Long Will The Appeal Process Take?

An appeal of a family law matter is a lengthy process. Of course the time it will take varies based on the circumstances of each case, but it is not unusual for an appeal to take a year.

If you are considering filing an appeal of a family law matter in New Jersey, it is important that you act quickly in order to meet the deadlines of your case. Call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400 today.


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Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney.

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