Appeal a Divorce Ruling?
Appealing to Your Sensibilities
I was at a luncheon the other day to listen to a speaker who was an expert appellate attorney. He started his talk by explaining that the percentage of successful appeals in Florida is about 12%. That means that you have an 88% chance of losing your divorce appeal. He stated that these odds were across the board in that it really didn’t seem to matter they type of case you were appealing. This included civil, criminal and family law cases. Not real good odds for success.
I started to think about how this affects the strategy of a case. The reality is that if you chose to go to trial, meaning having a judge or jury in some cases make the decision, you probably have only one chance to be successful, because the likelihood of reversing the lower court decision is very slim. I have often stated that there are numerous reasons to try and settle a case. A 12% success rate for an appeal is another good reason to try and avoid a trial.
I realize that many people don’t really understand the workings of an appeal. Everyone has the absolute right to appeal a judge or jury decision. A settlement between the parties cannot be appealed, since you can only appeal a judge’s legal ruling. You cannot appeal the facts of a case, only the legal issues. You are trying to convince an appellate court that the judge in your case made an improper legal ruling. You cannot re-try the case or appeal the credibility of a witness that the finder of fact found to be credible.
An appeal is heard in the Appellate Court, which is located in Palm Beach County for this circuit. The facts of the case are not tried over. Three appellate judges will decide whatever legal issues are raised by the parties. The judge’s will review the transcript of the proceedings and make their decision based upon the legal arguments presented. Sometimes a decision is made just from written briefs filed with the court. If the parties wish to have an oral argument before the court, which is a chance to plead their case in person, they can so request it. Their decision usually takes many months to be made.
As you can see, this process is complex, time consuming and usually expensive. The chance of being successful, a mere 12%. There certainly are times when a divorce appeal is necessary because much might be at stake. Perhaps your case will be one of the 12 out of 100 that will obtain a favorable ruling.
Let our Weston family law firm assist you through the complex process and decisions in a divorce proceeding in Broward County. Contact the Law Firm of Evan H. Baron today for a consultation.