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What is involved in the appeal process for a family law case?

Everett, WA |

Is it a review of law along with the lower court's decision on the matter with existing evidence or is it more like a trial de novo? Do you appear in court?

I should have stated that it is a commissioner, not trial court. I now know it is a Revision, not an Appeal. Thank you all for you answers.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Books are written on this issue. In general, an appeal is "on the record"; the appellate court looks at the trial court file and the transcript of the testimony. Deference is usually given to the trial court on all factual questions. You have limited time to file an appeal. If you are interested in doing so, see an appellate attorney ASAP.

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Asker

Posted

This wasn't a trial (bench) court, it was a commissioner in lower court.

Bruce Clement

Bruce Clement

Posted

Same advice. Except that you have 10 days from the decision to file a Motion for Revision, which has a Judge review the Commissioner's decision. And sometimes you actually win.

Asker

Posted

Does this involve oral argument from both sides again? If I lose do I risk having to pay attorney fees even though none were awarded by the commissioner?

Posted

You should really have an attorney appear in court for you, in addition to writing your briefs--appeals are more complicated than most pro se litigants can manage effectively, and it is difficult to succeed on appeal anyway. This is because the standard of review on most family law matters is abuse of discretion, and the law provides for a great amount of discretion, so it would take something really unreasonable to be overturned--the appellate court will not substitute its own judgment for the trial court's.

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Kate M Forrest

Kate M Forrest

Posted

Also be aware that you need to file a notice of appeal within 30 days, so you need to start talking to attorneys right away.

Asker

Posted

This is regarding a case of clear contempt where a commissioner lectured my ex-wife, told her she has been acting in bad faith and has been difficult just to be difficult. My ex has declined my attempts to mediate, failed to reimburse expenses, violated the vacation provisions, removed my children from the state without notice, etc. She was not found in contempt even after the commissioner agreed with all points in my case. This ruling needs to be reviewed because I think it is an abuse of discretion when one party has clearly violated on many levels. What good is a parenting plan and an order of support if you can't use it as an instrument of enforcement?

Kate M Forrest

Kate M Forrest

Posted

Appeals are for trial court judgments; to challenge a commissioner's ruling you need to file a motion for revision or for reconsideration, and these are due within 10 days, so talk to an attorney right away.

Posted

Too many issues to list here. Fling an appeal with the Court of Appeals is a complex procedure and you should not try to do it alone. Please hire an appellate attorney.

Please note that THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE and are for informational purposes only. This response is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship and is only based on the limited facts given. The response might change should additional facts be learned and should not be relied on as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who can properly assess the situation, as well as all pertinent facts, prior to taking any action based on the foregoing statements

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Posted

The process for appealing a trial court's decisions in a family law case are set out in the Rules of Appellate Procedure (RAP). You can find these rules on the Washington State Courts website, at the appellate courts link. See http://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/. At the top, right-hand side of the page is a link to a handy document, RAP Rules Flow Chart. This will give you a good overview of what you need to do. Just remember, you only have a right to review of final orders and you must file a notice of appeal of these orders within 30 days of entry.

Good luck!

Ed Hirsch

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