In the event of a family court trial, one party involved might find the outcome disappointing. In cases involving child custody, an unfavorable decision could mean limited access to your child, contrary to your desires. If you believe the court’s ruling doesn’t align with your child’s best interests and wish to contest it, you might wonder: Can you appeal a custody decision in Texas?
Technically, it is possible to appeal a final custody decision. However, it’s exceedingly rare for an appeals court to overturn a family court’s judgment. To do so, you must demonstrate a significant legal error in the family court’s decision. Moreover, adhering to a time-sensitive procedure is crucial when appealing a custody ruling. Seeking immediate guidance from an experienced family appeals lawyer is essential in this situation.
WHAT DOES APPEALING A CHILD CUSTODY CASE ENTAIL IN TEXAS?
Appealing a child custody case in Texas involves requesting the Texas Appeals Court to review a decision made by a lower court, typically the Family Court, on the grounds that the lower court committed a legal error.
Child custody cases are inherently intricate, with instances where judges render decisions that both parties find disagreeable. It’s vital to clarify that appealing a child custody case does not provide a complete “redo” of your trial; rather, it offers an avenue to rectify a legal error made by the lower court.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR APPEALING A CHILD CUSTODY CASE?
Much like the standard appeal process, appealing a child custody case can be intricate and time-consuming. When contemplating an appeal, it’s advisable to collaborate with an attorney.
The process typically begins with your attorney filing a notice of appeal with the trial clerk within 30 days of the court’s decision. Subsequently, your appeal attorney must file a docketing statement with the appellate court. The trial court clerk and reporter will then compile and forward the case record to the appellate court.
Upon the appellate court’s receipt of the record, your attorney has 30 days to file the appellant brief and accompanying documents, which present arguments against the family court’s decision. The opposing party has 30 days to respond with an opposition brief, and an additional 20 days are provided for a reply.
There is also the option to request an oral argument before the appellate court, however, it’s worth noting that the court may decide your case without such an argument.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR APPEAL IN A CHILD CUSTODY CASE?
In Texas, higher courts apply an “abuse-of-discretion” standard when evaluating whether a custody order should be modified on appeal. Essentially, an appellate court in most child custody cases in Texas will find that a trial court abused its discretion if its actions were arbitrary, unreasonable, or lacked adherence to guiding principles or rules. Failure to appropriately analyze or apply the law may also qualify as an abuse of discretion.
Following this standard, the court must assess both the factual and legal sufficiency of the evidence and identify a legal error committed by the lower court in favor of the appealing party.
The appellate court, in turn, can choose to uphold the trial court’s decision, reverse it, or remand it for a new trial or other proceedings. While it is commonly held that appellate courts often affirm a judge’s initial custody decision, the outcome is contingent upon the unique circumstances of each case.