When your family situation or financial future is at stake, resolving a family law dispute can be very difficult and emotional work, especially if the case goes to trial. Unfortunately, not every family law case ends with both sides feeling comfortable and satisfied with the judge’s decision.
It is possible, though, in some cases, to successfully appeal a ruling related to divorce, child custody, property division or another contested family law issue. There are important distinctions to be aware of, however, regarding the initial trial process and the appellate process.
1. Some people believe that an appeal involves an entirely new trial, but that is not the case
If you’re not happy with a trial judge’s ruling and you decide to appeal, then the appellate court will review the trial judge’s decision. A new trial isn’t conducted, though. Instead, the appellate court looks at the court reporter’s record, the court clerk’s record and briefs prepared by the disputing parties’ attorneys.
2. Not every family law attorney is prepared to handle an appeal
Make no mistake: anyone who intends to appeal a trial judge’s ruling should have a lawyer who knows the appeals process. The appellate court’s rules and procedures are completely different than the trial court’s rules and procedures, and you need someone on your side who knows the difference and how to fight for the issues that are important to you.
3. You don’t have to keep the same lawyer you had for the trial or the contested hearing
At the Vaught Law Firm, we frequently appeal trial court rulings throughout Texas for individuals who started their cases with a different lawyer. In fact, attorney Jimmy Vaught is one of only a handful of family law attorneys in Texas who are board-certified in civil appellate law. He has represented family law clients in the Courts of Appeal and the Texas Supreme Court.
To learn more about the appeals process, please see our overview of divorce and custody appeals.