This is the second post in my series on the handling of San Bernardino, California family law appeals. My last post provided an overview of topics I will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an appellate attorney immediately if you find yourself wishing to challenge the lower Court’s decision. It is important that you only have a limited amount of time in which you may file an appeal and, if you do not meet this deadline, then you will lose your right to do so. In this article, I will discuss a topic which often leads to confusion – the difference between a family law trial and an appeal.
Many make the mistake of thinking that an appeal is a “do over” of the process they already went through before the Family Court Judge. This is not the case. The Appellate Court does not consider new evidence or hear new testimony. The Appellate Judges will review the transcripts of the initial proceeding and, for the most part, will accept the Trial Judge’s findings of fact as accurate. The purpose of an appeal is for the Appellate Judges to determine whether the Trial Judge made a mistake when applying the law to your case. Such mistakes can take many forms.
One form of error for which an Appellate Court will hear a case involves whether or not evidence should have been admitted at your trial. If the Trial Judge incorrectly overruled an objection, or declined to overrule it, then any evidence entered as a result of that mistake may have impacted the outcome of your case. In such a situation, the higher court reviews the record and determines whether the lower court made a mistake. If it is found that a mistake was made, then the Appellate Judges will consider whether that mistake impacted the outcome of your case. If it is found that the error did not impact the outcome, then the initial ruling will be upheld. If, however, the mistake was material to the outcome of your case then there are several possibilities as to how the Appellate Court will handle the error. These outcomes will be the subject of a future article in this series.
Other errors which can be raised on appeal include instances where the Trial Judge either misunderstood or misapplied the law. These may include instances where a Judge classified assets as being marital property when they should not have been, or vice versa. Other common errors include the laws which a Court applied when determining child custody, child support, spousal support, or other financial obligations. As with evidentiary errors, how the Appellate Court deals with these types of mistakes will depend on several circumstances.
If you have been through the Family Court process and are unhappy with the outcome, then contact my office today to speak with a San Bernardino family law appeals attorney. I am experienced in such matters and ready to assist you. My office also serves Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.