Morris County Family Law Appeals
Resolving case outcomes in family law matters through the legal appeals process
Family law matters are delicate. If a family court decision didn’t turn out as you had wanted, it can have a big impact on your life. Matters like child support, child custody arrangements, asset division, final restraining orders, and alimony are at stake.
When a final court order is issued, it’s typically final. Yet there are options available if you feel like the court’s ruling wasn’t appropriate. A different outcome is still possible for you.
You have the right to seek a new judgment in your case through the New Jersey family law appeals court.
The appeals process in New Jersey is complex and time sensitive, but if there’s a basis to ask the appeals court to review the outcome in your case, that may be an option for you.
Whether we represented you initially or not, our team at Jacobs Berger can help you understand your options. Our attorneys understand the nuances of family law matters and the court system. We work with clients in Morris County, Essex County, and Somerset County, New Jersey to explore options, next steps, and how we can help appeal an unfavorable or unfair judgment.
Don’t let a questionable judgment on a legal matter keep your life from moving forward. Schedule a strategic planning session with our experienced attorneys today.
What Is a Family Law Appeal Attorney?
Whether it’s child custody or division of assets, the goal of court rulings is to provide a fair decision. Sometimes the plaintiff or defendant isn’t happy with the ruling, but that alone doesn’t mean the courts were wrong.
Sometimes, however, the courts make mistakes and rule in error. In those cases, you have the option of filing an appeal. It’s highly advisable to work with a family law appeals attorney to evaluate your case and the grounds for an appeal.
Preparing a strong appeals case means working with an attorney who understands the appeals processes and is committed to helping you achieve success.
Time is critical for these situations—appeals must be filed within 45 days of the initial judgment. There are also strict rules surrounding the procedures if you want a successful resolution, from assembling correct documentation to drafting a procedural history and crafting legal arguments as part of an appellate brief.
An experienced NJ family law appeals attorney will give you deeper insight into your legal options, help you comply with the necessary requirements in the state, and position you for a better legal outcome.
How Can I Appeal a Family Law Order?
Filing an appeal for a family law order involves multiple steps. You’ll need to work with an experienced attorney to complete the following requirements:
- Determine which issues in your case you want to appeal and whether there is a legal or factual basis to substantiate the requests
- File a notice with the Appellate Division
- Obtain and organize the relevant trial court documents, exhibits, and transcripts
- Conduct the necessary legal research in support of your appeal
- Prepare and file a brief that lays out the facts of the case and the laws that should be (or should have been) applied
- Make an oral argument in front of the Appellate Division judges (if it’s warranted)
Who can file an appeal?
The first thing to know is that any final family law order issued in the Trial Court or the Appellate Division can be appealed. Time is of the essence, though—all appeals have to be filed within 45 days of the initial judgment.
Either party in a case has the right to appeal, although only final decisions are appealable. If aspects of a final order are left open, or if an order is issued during the process, but it’s possible to appeal, you’ll need to get permission from the appeals court to begin the appeals process.
Don’t proceed without legal advice and guidance, though. It’s imperative to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the steps. Your attorney will review your case and advise how your appeal should be crafted. It’s important to note that you can’t add new evidence, facts, or testimony to your case.
An appeal can be based on errors in procedure, insufficient evidence, or legal errors committed by the courts.
Once you’re ready to appeal, you’ll file a Notice of Appeal and the relevant documents. (Again, within 45 days of your final order.) Missing the deadline means your appeal may be rejected as untimely unless you request more time from the Appellate Division—and they may choose not to grant this!
After you’ve filed, there are a lot of procedural requirements, including when the court issues a scheduling order for both parties. The other party can file a cross-appeal, which lets them raise their own issues for appeal, which can be different than yours. While this may be surprising, cross-appeals are common and some final judgments will rule in favor of each party on separate matters.
It’s also not uncommon for the appeals process to be resolved via settlement during the appeal—because of the length of appeals trials and the expenses for both parties, it may end up being a better solution for everyone.
Don’t risk missteps in your appeal. Schedule a strategic planning session with our experienced attorneys today.
When Would You Appeal a Family Law Order?
Mistakes happen during trials. Sometimes these mistakes can have an adverse impact on your case’s outcome. The appeals process is designed to help parties remedy these mistakes and receive a fair legal decision. Situations that may warrant filing an appeal include:
- A decision that went against the weight of evidence
- Statutes being incorrectly applied in your case
- An incorrect ruling on a motion or objection
- Prejudicial evidence or witness testimony
- Inadmissible evidence being allowed in court
- A biased judge
Through the appeals process, you can seek a reversal of results in a higher court, either the Appellate Division or the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
However, while you may be able to reserve a ruling, you should have a frank conversation with your attorney on the chances of success, and what success looks like to you. How will the appeals process impact your family life? Your finances? Your wellbeing?
Understanding your goals can help you make sound short- and long-term decisions. Keep in mind, also, that the appeals process can be lengthy. It’s not unusual for an appeal to take months, even over a year, to be decided. If there are additional proceedings in the trial court, which can be complicated by a pending appeal in the Appellate Division, this can create further delays as well.
What about changing my divorce agreement or child custody agreement? Does that take place in the appeals court?
Clients often need to make changes to different parts of their divorce agreement. Child custody, child support, alimony, and other forms of support are based on the best projections legal professionals can make—at that time! Circumstances change frequently, though.
However, it’s important to distinguish between modifying and appealing. While they both lead to changes in divorce agreements, the legal processes are very different. Modifications are changes that result from new circumstances, while appeals are based on improper or unlawful court proceedings.
Family law appeals require experience and knowledge to handle successfully. Schedule a consultation with our experienced attorneys today.
How the Appellate Division’s Review Process Works in New Jersey
Once all of the paperwork surrounding your appeal has been finalized, it will be submitted to the Appellate Division and reviewed by several judges. The Appellate Division’s review process generally only considers evidence that was submitted during the initial trial, with very few legal exceptions. This can include court transcripts, pleadings, and evidence. If you need to supplement the record, you and your attorney will need to file a motion to do so.
The Appellate Division will only reverse the order if you can demonstrate that the Family Court’s original ruling:
- Failed to follow relevant legal principles or case law precedents
- The judge abused their discretion
- The decision wasn’t based on credible or accurate evidence
What if the Appellate Court rejects my appeal?
If the judges’ decision is split, your case automatically goes to the New Jersey Supreme Court. If the decision is unanimously against the appeal, however, you’ll have to file a formal request with the New Jersey Supreme Court if you wish for further consideration.
The New Jersey Supreme Court will either decide to hear your appeal or deny it. These decisions are based on the available facts of the case and whether your attorney can make the argument that previous court decisions have been unfair or unreasonable. All decisions made at the Supreme Court level are final—there are no appeals beyond this court.
Thorough knowledge of the law and proven ability to navigate the procedures of the Appellate Division is vital to a successful outcome for clients. Without the necessary experience, it’s an uphill battle to remedy mistakes and misjudgments.
Get help from our experienced attorneys today!
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our family law appeals attorneys have extensive experience reviewing family law cases and working within the swift timelines and complex procedures of the appeals process in New Jersey.
We go beyond advocating for clients in the courtroom, though—we make sure clients know what to expect throughout the process and receive the support they need.