Can I Appeal the Judge’s Child Custody Decision?

New Jersey law gives judges a great deal of discretion in family law matters, including decisions related to child custody. In some cases, a judge’s custody and parenting time decision may be very easy to understand, but in other cases, a decision may seem biased or unfair to one or both parents. In that case, you do have recourse; when you receive a court decision that you disagree with, you do have the right to challenge the judge’s decision through the appeals process.

An appeal asks a court consisting of two or three appellate judges to review the trial judge’s child custody decision. The appellate court can affirm the trial court’s decision, which means that the appellate court agrees with the trial court’s decision and determines that it should remain in place. Alternatively, the appellate court has the authority to completely overturn a trial judge’s decision and issue its own decision on the matter, but this is a relatively rare occurrence. More commonly, however, if the appellate court disagrees with the trial court decision, it will remand, or send back, the decision to the trial court judge, along with instructions stating what the trial court did wrong in making its decision. In this case, the trial court judge is supposed to review the case again and issue a new decision according to the instructions given by the appellate court.

Appeals in the state of New Jersey, as is the case in many states, tend to be very long and expensive battles. You can expect that appeals (unless emergent) will last a year or more, and, in the meantime, the trial court’s Order on child custody will be in place (unless the Court determines to “stay” or hold the Order pending the appeal). That Order will remain in effect, unless the appellate court decides to overturn the trial court decision for some reason.

As a practical matter, very few child custody cases are appropriate for an appeal. The vast majority of family law decisions from trial courts are affirmed by the appellate court. Plus, in the small number of cases in which the appellate court overturns a decision, or determines that the decision is erroneous in some manner, the result may not be in your favor. Therefore, a decision to appeal of a child custody decision should be very carefully considered.

The attorneys of Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , know how stressful, emotional, and complex legal proceedings can be, particularly when they involve custody or other matters related to your children. If you are looking for help with a legal matter involving families or children, you need the advice and guidance of one of our attorneys. Contact our office today to set up a meeting with an experienced lawyer at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, and learn how we can help you with your legal case.

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