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Family Law

How to Appeal a Child Custody Decision

Taly Thiessen

The gavel has slammed and the judge has made their verdict. The custody agreement you were hoping for just got denied.

Frustrating though this may be, you don’t want to give up. The good news is that you don’t have to. Family court decisions can be appealed, but the process isn’t easy.

How can you appeal against a judge’s decision? What does appealing child custody decisions in Texas require? Get the answers every parent needs to know about appealing a child custody decision in Texas.

What are the grounds for appeal in a child custody decision?

If you’re here, chances are you’re wondering, “Can family court decisions be appealed?” The answer is yes, but again, doing so isn’t easy.

Before moving forward, it’s important to understand what an appeal is and is not. An appeal is not a new trial, nor is a successful appeal a new verdict.

When you file an appeal in your child custody decision, you are asking a higher court to review the decision of the original family court and to check for improper handling. The higher court is not reviewing new facts at this stage. Instead, the court is looking for evidence that the law was applied incorrectly and that the original verdict was issued in error.

The most important step in successfully appealing a family court decision in Texas is to prove that there was either some sort of indiscretion or wrong doing in the original court proceedings, or that the verdict of the case violates existing family laws.

In other words, perceived unfairness or mischaracterizations are not enough to earn an appeal — a provable miscarriage of justice needs to have taken place during your child custody agreement. The burden of proving that the court miscarried justice rests squarely on your shoulders.

(NOTE: Applying for emergency temporary custody is not the same thing as filing an appeal. This is a separate process with different results. For more information on emergency temporary custody hearings, click here.)

How can I begin my appeal?

Though appealing a family court decision in Texas is no simple task, acting fast and maintaining strong legal representation certainly helps. The court’s power expires 30 days after the original judgment was made — and you’ll need to submit a motion for a new trial within 15 days for your appeal to even stand a chance of moving forward.

Once you file for an appeal, the power of the court extends to 90 days, giving you and your attorney more time to gather the evidence necessary for winning a new trial.

How can I improve my chances of winning a child custody appeal?

One thing you can do to improve your chances of winning a child custody appeal is to obtain a written rationale from the judge whose verdict you wish to appeal. Without this rationale, the appellate court will simply use the original court record, which is typically written in a manner that reinforces the verdict you’re trying to appeal.

If the appellate court agrees with your appeal and grants you a new trial, you and your attorney must carefully present evidence confirming that a modified custody agreement is in the best interest of your child(ren). Whether you’re a father fighting for full custody or agrandparent trying to win custody, your focus should always be on the child and their well-being, not what’s best for you.

Give your child custody appeal a fighting chance.

Winning an appeal is no easy feat, not to mention landing on a satisfactory agreement in a new trial. To reverse a previous court decision, you’ll need to act quickly and work strategically. If your previous representation didn’t put up the fight your case requires, you deserve a second chance with stronger representation.

Taly Thiessen is an experienced Houston family law attorney with a trial-tested background and a client-focused approach. Combining her past in criminal defense with her specialty as a family law attorney, Taly brings a tactical edge to her cases, ensuring no stone is left unturned in obtaining a fair custody agreement.

Time is of the essence. You only have 15 days to extend your deadline and begin building your case. Contact Taly Thiessen at (713) 999-3959 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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