Texas Family Law Appellate Attorneys

It is sometimes necessary to engage the services of an appellate lawyer after an unfavorable decision from a family-law court.  Slate & Associates  serves as appellate counsel in all types of family-law matters, including divorcechild support, custody, spousal support, and property disputes.

Below, our Houston appellate attorneys explain some basics about Texas’s appeals process and what you can expect.

Should I Appeal a Family Court Decision I Disagree With?

An appeal is a request for a higher court—either a court of appeals or the Texas Supreme Court—to review and then reverse some or all of the trial court’s judgment or order.

Simply disagreeing with the trial court’s decision is not grounds for an appeal. Appellate courts are bound by standards of review which frame their legal analysis and decision-making.  In other words, an appeal is not a “do over.”  The appellate court typically cannot review your case de novo, or “with new eyes,” as if it was the trial court. Instead, it must defer to the factfinder (judge or jury) on questions like which witnesses to believe.  No new evidence may be introduced on appeal—the appeal is based only on the record of what happened at the trial court.

You may have grounds for appeal if, among other things:

  • the trial court incorrectly ruled on an objection or motion and that error was harmful to the outcome of your case;
  • the trial court erroneously admitted or excluded evidence and that error was harmful to the outcome of your case;
  • the trial court’s decision was not supported by the evidence or was contrary to the weight of the evidence; or
  • the trial court misapplied the law.

The Appeals Process

There are two types of appeals relevant here—

  • Appeal from Final Judgment: If you are appealing a decision that fully resolves the issues before the trial court, you do not need to request permission to appeal.  But you must act quickly.  In most cases, the deadline to file a notice that you intend to appeal is due 30 days after the judgment is signed.
  • Appeal from a Non-final Order:  In some situations, you can appeal an order that is not final—such as an award of temporary child custody, child support, or spousal support.  This is done through the filing of a Petition for Writ of Mandamus.  The appellate court’s decision about whether to resolve such issues prior to the trial court’s final judgment is purely discretionary.  While there is no set deadline for filing this type of petition, the appellate court will not grant relief if the party has unreasonably delayed seeking review.

Why Do I Need an Appellate Attorney?

Appeals are very different than trials.  They require an attorney experienced in navigating the appellate process and rules, as well as knowledge about how to present cases to appellate judges.  Trial counsel may be very familiar with the judges in your county. Appellate counsel, however, will be familiar with the judges serving on the appellate courts across the state.  An appellate attorney will sift through the record, identify and raise the issues that are most likely to lead to success on appeal, and present your arguments in a way most likely to persuade the appellate court.

Slate & Associates, Attorneys at Law, Can Provide the Experienced Appellate Counsel You Need

With vast experience in family law and appeals, Slate & Associates can provide the expertise you need.  The head of its appellate section, Karlene Poll, has handled state and federal appeals for over twenty years with a proven success rate, even in the United States Supreme Court.   She is regularly engaged by trial counsel across the state to assist with appellate matters, as well as by individual clients needing to file, or defend against, appeals of family-law judgments.

Request a Consultation

If you have questions about an appeal, you should act quickly and request a meeting with an experienced family-law appellate attorney. Slate & Associates attorneys will help you understand your likelihood of success on appeal and suggest practical next steps in your family-law matter, whether that entails working alongside your trial attorney or independently handling your appeal. To request a consultation, please contact our office today.