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Can a custody order be appealed?

October 2, 2017

Custody, visitation and child support can be ordered in a divorce, or when a child’s parents were never married to each other. The courts take many things into consideration when deciding these matters, and sometimes the decision they make isn’t the one you wanted. You may be wondering: can I appeal the custody order?

The answer to that is: possibly. There are many factors to consider before trying to appeal a custody order.

Did the court make a mistake?

While the decision may seem unfair, and perhaps it even is unfair, fairness is not a reason to appeal the order. If you’re going to appeal a custody order, you must be able to prove that the court made a mistake when making their decision. What would constitute a mistake?

Mistake about the facts – If they deem an unimportant fact to be more important than it is, or an important fact to not be important.
Mistake about the law – If the court didn’t understand the law or applied it incorrectly, this would be a mistake.

In addition to the court having made a mistake, you also must have objected to that mistake in court, in order to file an appeal. This means you had to tell the court, while the case was happening, that you thought they were making a mistake. If you didn’t do that, you can’t appeal.

Do you have standing?

Only the petitioner, respondent, or their lawyers, can file an appeal. A grandparent, aunt, uncle, or family friend cannot file an appeal.

In addition, the order must be final. There are special circumstances in which you can appeal an order that is not final, but generally speaking, you must wait until the case is finished and there are no more court dates to file an appeal.

Was the order made on default?

If the order was made on default, technically, you would not appeal the order. Instead, you would move to vacate the order, and if that is denied, you would then appeal that denial.

When was the order made?

You have 30 days from the day the order was served to file an appeal (this may not be the same as the date that the court made the order). If it has been more than 30 days since you were served the order, then you cannot appeal. This is why it’s important to move quickly if you plan to appeal. You should order transcripts from the case as soon as possible.

It’s also important to remember that if you had a lawyer, your lawyer has to file the appeal for you. If you didn’t have a lawyer, you can still hire one to help you with the appeal.

Time is of the essence in filing an appeal for a custody order. Don’t delay or you may find that it’s too late. If you’re still not sure, you should contact a lawyer today to find out. A lawyer can also help you get the appropriate paperwork as well as fill it out properly and deliver it to the appropriate parties to make sure that your appeal is handled as quickly and smoothly as possible.

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