Sometimes family law clients or self represented litigants do not like the outcome of their family court matter, and their immediate reaction is to want to appeal it. However, the Appellate division does not decide if the facts of your case were correctly discerned, they decide if there is an error in the application of the law or the arrival of the Judge at the facts. The Appellate Court gives “great deference” to the findings of the family court Judge, so the standard for returning a case (remand) to get a new decision is quite high, Donnelly v. Donnelly, 405 N.J. Super. 117, 127 (App. Div. 2009) (citing Larbig v. Larbig, 384 N.J. Super. 17, 21 (App. Div. 2006)).
Appealing a decision is expensive and time consuming. One can expect to spend from $5000-25000 on an appeal and it can take up to or over a year. At our firm, we will be honest with you if we think you have a case that is (1) a likely success and/or (2) financially worth pursuing. It is rarely worth appealing a case because you are angry. If you stand to lose more financially without an appeal, or a child or your relationship with your child is at a risk, and you have something to appeal on, that’s a good time to consider an appeal.
Most people cannot successfully manage an appeal without legal representation. The legal argument as well as the rules of the Appellate court require a specific skill set and understanding of the law and procedures. The standard of review is very specific, and the Appellate Division can reject your case for many reasons. You also have a limited time frame to file an appeal and to complete certain deadlines of the process, and in New Jersey this is all done through e-courts now.
If you do not like the result in a matter, there IS a less expensive mechanism called a Motion for Reconsideration that must be filed within 20 days of the order. The bad news is, you’re going in front of the same judge unless they are unavailable. You have to demonstrate not that you just didn’t like the result but that the judge ruled in specific error.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of a family court matter, you need to see an attorney immediately to discuss your options, as you do not have a lot of time to file motions or even an Appeal. If you schedule a free consult with us, we will tell you the truth about your likely outcome and help you decide if the expense is worth the possible result. Call 856-227-7888 and we can get you set up to speak with an attorney quickly.