The ability to file an appeal after receiving a ruling in a civil or criminal court is one of the best aspects of the judicial system in the United States. An appeal is not a second chance to try a case that did not end the way you would have liked. There is no presentation of evidence or witness statements. Rather, your attorney presents a case using the evidence from your original trial, and from the court transcripts from that trial. Your lawyer’s goal in winning an appeal of your case is to show where the trial court may have made mistakes in the original trial.
Sometimes, judges get it wrong. Sometimes, a mistake or error in your trial will lead to an unfortunate decision. Regardless of the point at which there was a mistake in law or fact which led to an unfavorable decision in your family law case, you have the right to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court.
What makes a case eligible for an appeal?
In Tennessee, you must file an appeal within thirty (30) days of the trial court’s judgement. The Tennessee Supreme Court adheres to strict deadlines, so if you do not file your appeal within the deadline, you will have lost your chance forever. Some examples of divorce and family law matters whose decision might be appealed include:
- Asset division
- Child custody disputes
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Paternity fraud
While you may not be satisfied with the outcome of your case, that is not sufficient grounds for an appeal. Filing an appeal is not always in your best interest. Your divorce attorney will have the best insight as to whether an appeal makes sense, and whether there was indeed an error in law or fact in the original trial. There could have been information that the judge overlooked that could have influenced the outcome. There could have been inadmissible evidence which influenced the judge’s decision. In some cases, there could have been some form of bias against one of the parties in the original trial, or a mistake in procedure.
In Tennessee, you have an absolute right to an appeal in a civil case, including divorce and other family law matters. After the panel of three appellate judges hears the arguments on both sides, there are three possible outcomes:
- The original ruling can be upheld
- The original ruling may be reversed
- The appellate court can return (“remand”) the case to the lower court with instructions as to how the case should be concluded or for hearing further proof on a specific aspect of the appeal.
One vitally important thing to remember concerning appeals is that timelines are tight. If you wish to pursue an appeal there are deadlines for filing. You must contact a Nashville family law attorney who handles appeals immediately or you could lose your opportunity to appeal your case. There is no requirement that you work with the same attorney who handled the original case.
At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, we guide our clients through divorce, deciding child custody, paternity, support, and any other family law issues at hand. We help our clients get the result they need to begin a new life. You are invited you to call us today at 615-454-9899, or contact us to reserve your consultation with an experienced Nashville divorce attorney.