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Appealing family court decisions in Texas

What is an appeal?

After your case has been decided by a judge or jury, you may not be satisfied with the result. If you feel that the case result was not in your favor because your position was poorly represented, you have a short window to file an appeal for a review of your case and outcome. When you appeal a verdict you are stating that you want the case reviewed by a higher court. The higher court will not hear new facts, but will look at how the law was applied to the facts for error. Your deadlines are short.

Findings of fact and conclusions of law

If you tried the case to the judge, you must get the judge to write down the rationale for the ruling. You have to file a pleading to do. Should you fail to timely file the request then the appellate court has the record to look at and the pleading, but the order is presumed to contain all the finding necessary to support the court reasons for its findings.

Getting a new trial

You may be able to file a motion for new trial, but most of the time this motion is brought to preserve errors that were made during the trial and also give you more time to get the forms together for the appeal. The court’s power expires 30 days after judgment, and if you file a notice of appeal within that period the court's power extends out 90 days from the date the judgment is signed. This gives you more time to get a copy of the record and get your documents in order for appealing a family court decision.

Stay during appeal

If the appeal involved a money judgment to an ex-spouse or the sale of real estate, you can post a bond to stay the collections pending the appeal.

Trial records

You must coordinate with the court reporter to get the record on file with the court of appeals. The trial record is typically one of the most costly items to gather for the appeal.

Appellate briefs

The brief for appealing a court decision is due 30 days after notice of appeal or 30 days after record is filed, whichever happened last.

Oral arguments and appeals

If you do not request oral argument, it is waived. If a timely request were made, your attorney could advocate on your behalf to a panel of judges, who would then vote on the merits of your case and make a decision regarding the trial court’s original ruling.

Grounds for appeal

You may appeal nearly any family law decision, whether it involves issues of property division, child custody, or child support. Regardless of the issue you are appealing, the standard for overturning a family law decision is proving that there was an abuse of discretion by the court that decided your case, or that the case should be overturned as a matter of law.

It is important to be aware that it is difficult to overturn any court decision and the burden of proof is on the party making the appeal.

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