How to Appeal a Child Custody Ruling
When it comes to child custody, the goal of Texas courts is to create an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. However, even the wisest judge can make a mistake. If the judge made a mistake in your case, you may be able to file an appeal. Learn what you need to know about appealing a child custody ruling here.
What Are the Reasons You May File an Appeal?
You cannot file an appeal simply because you do not like the decision the judge made or because the situation makes you unhappy. You must be able to explain a legal reason that you are choosing to appeal, and your reason must be strong enough that if you win, the judge might make a different decision. Your divorce attorney can help you find an issue in your case that may allow you to get another hearing.
Sometimes the judge makes a mistake in the process. There are many court rules governing how hearings must be conducted. Sometimes the courts may admit that there was an error, but then say that the error was harmless and had no effect on the outcome. Some common procedural errors involve service and discovery.
For instance, the judge may order both parties to provide certain evidence, but one party may refuse to cooperate. At other times, a party may not be served notice for a hearing, but the judge may allow the hearing anyway without the other party present. If the mistake is blatant enough, you may be able to get a new hearing.
Was the Ruling Unreasonable?
Sometimes you can show that the ruling was not reasonable considering the evidence presented. When the evidence clearly contradicts the court’s decision, you can appeal the ruling. Again, this does not just mean that you do not agree with the ruling. The courts use a standard of reasonableness because sometimes a decision is made that was clearly not appropriate for whatever reason.
How Soon After a Ruling Can You File an Appeal?
If you want to file an appeal on a final ruling, you will have to do it quickly. Deadlines are very strict when it comes to these kinds of procedures. If you do not file a notice of appeal within 30 days, the order will be considered permanent.
That does not mean that you need to be able to present your entire case within 30 days. That time period is just so that you can notify the court that you intend to contest the ruling. After you file your notice, you can prepare your full complaint. When you file your appeal, you should include any evidence you think will help your case.
Filing a Modification
In Texas, you can file a modification on a custody order at any time. You do, however, have to be able to show that circumstances have changed significantly since the original ruling. Here are some of the reasons you can use to file for a modification of your custody order:
- Either one or both of the parents has gotten a different job or lost a job, so their income will be different.
- One of the parents is moving out of state, a circumstance that requires special accommodations when it comes to child custody and visitation.
- One parent is getting married again, leading to different living arrangements.
- One of the parents or children may end up needing extra care and money for a medical condition.
- If one of the parents is using drugs or abusing the children, the other parent can file for a modification in order to protect the children.
Speak to an Attorney Who Can Help
Even though you may be able to file for a modification at any time, you cannot file for a change in the order unless there is a change of circumstances. That is why it may be better to file an appeal instead of a modification if you believe that there is a serious error in the final custody order.
At Setzer Law Firm, we understand how stressful it can be to go through a custody dispute. The situation is even worse when you know that you will need to continue to fight to protect your children’s best interests. Our experienced, compassionate family law attorneys in Southlake have helped many families resolve every kind of family law issue. If you believe that you may be going through a custody dispute in the future, or if you have already started the process, call us so we can help you prepare your case.