I am in the mist of a custody battle; I may have to appeal to a higher court. If the appeal is granted, how does it work? A friend told me that a child custody appeal can take about 6 months. If I have to appeal, would I have to wait 6 months for a decision and then wait months to get back into the local court? Or does the appeals judge make a decision on custody?
There would first have to be a hearing by the superior court regarding the appeal, unless it is clear by the briefs that there was an error or it is a waste of their time. If the Court does find an error, they will remand it back to the trial court. Depending on the severity of the appeal and the effect that error by the court had on the overall outcome of the case, the court can rule to either correct one aspect (such as the verdict) or have a new trial. If there is a new trial, the case is placed on the docket and you start from the beginning (all pre-trial works is the same, you would have a court date which would be new).
You may wish to hire an attorney to discuss the matter with you. Realize there are time deadliens to file an appeal, usually 20 days after a ruling by the court, and time is very important in the Court. Best of luck!
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I would agree with Paul. You need to await the trial court decision, then take the decision to an appeals lawyer. They will look for an error in the application of the facts to the law, or an error in the method of using the law, and file a notice of appeal. After that notice an appellate brief on the issues will be due, and that process alone usually takes about 2-3 months.
Once the brief is filed you can expect it will take some time for the court to determine the issue. If the appellate court decides in your favor they will generally remand to the lower court, with specific instructions on how to fix the error. This may mean a new hearing at the trial court, or it may just mean the trial court has to issue a new order.
Very few appeals succeed, so you need to make sure you have a good appellate lawyer. Just as Paul said, the time lines are very strict and you'll need to follow them closely.
Best of luck,
Shannon K. McDonald
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