What Is the Process of Appealing a Child Custody Order?

If your child custody trial did not have the outcome you were hoping for, you may be looking for ways to try and have the final child custody order changed. One way to do this is through appealing the child custody order. An appeal is not a retrial. In an appeal, you are requesting that a higher court review your case and no new evidence is introduced. Keep in mind, however, that it is difficult to win an appeal on a child custody case. In Florida, great discretion is given to the divorce court judges who render child custody decisions. 

Generally speaking, if the child custody decision can be seen as reasonable, an appellate court will not change it. This being said, there are still several situations in which an appellate court will reverse the decision of the trial court in a child custody case and so an appeal may still be worth pursuing.

I Want to Appeal My Child Custody Order – What Should I Do?

To begin the appeals process, you must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days after the signed final judgment is issued by the lower court. You will likely need to pay filing fees. The filed notice of appeal will then be sent to the district court of appeals. So, if you fail to file your notice of appeal within the allotted 30 days, you have waived your right to appeal and the child custody order is final.

Within 70 days of filing the notice of appeal, you, the appellant, must submit an initial brief which contains the legal arguments you are using to support having the final judgment regarding child custody overturned. In other words, the brief will explain your reasons for why the final decision of the lower court is unfair and should be changed. The other party, the appellee, who wishes to uphold the final judgment on child custody issued by the lower court, has 20 days after being served with the initial brief to submit an answer to the brief. This is an opportunity for them to address any of the arguments presented in the initial brief. You, as the appellant, will then have the opportunity to file a reply to the appellee’s answer to your initial brief. You must do so within 20 days of receiving the answer.

What to Expect at an Appeal Hearing

After all of this, you will attend a hearing on your appeal. You have the opportunity to request an oral argument. If you want to do this, you must file a separate request with the court. The oral argument is usually 10 to 15 minutes long and gives you the opportunity to orally present your reasons for appealing the child custody order. The oral argument takes place in front of a three-judge panel. Once the court has heard you and reviewed the case, they will render a decision. The decision will be mailed to you.

Florida Child Custody Attorneys

Child custody goes to the heart of a family. Issues involving children tend to get heated quickly as everyone wants what is best for their children and will fiercely fight for it. For all of your child custody legal needs, the experienced child custody attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.