One of the most heart wrenching and contentious areas of family law is child custody. When people who do not wish to get or remain married have children in common, the court is often tasked with making a determination about with whom the children will live. Once a child custody judgment is issued, it is legally binding.

In some cases, there may be grounds to appeal a child custody determination. Here’s what you should know about your rights related to an appeal, and how a Massachusetts family law attorney can help—

Reasons Why You May Want to Appeal a Child Custody Decision 

If you do not agree with the outcome of a child custody or other family law decision, you may be wondering whether or not you have the right to file an appeal. Unfortunately, merely disagreeing with the judge’s opinion is in itself not grounds for filing an appeal. Instead, in order to file an appeal, you must believe—and have evidence to show—that the trial judge who oversaw your case abused their discretion in some way and thereby made an erroneous decision. 

Things to Consider When Appealing a Family Law Decision

Before you file your appeal, it’s important to consider whether you actually have grounds and evidence to show that the judge abused their discretion and made an error. As such, one of the first things that you’ll want to think about is whether the judge in question had the legal authority to even make the decision in the order; if they didn’t, you may have grounds for an appeal. If you’re unsure, you should speak to an attorney about what this means.

Not only will you need evidence to back up your request to appeal, but you’ll also need to consider timing, cost, and potential outcomes. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judgment being issued, and requires a filing fee. If you’re working with an attorney, the process can result in additional legal fees. 

What Are the Chances of a Successful Appeal? 

It is very difficult to speculate on the chances of a successful appeal without thoroughly reviewing the details of your case—each case is very unique. Your chances of success are likely greater, however, if you work with a skilled attorney who understands the process.

Rather than appealing the case, seeking a modification of the court order at a later date may be a more appropriate course of action. Consult with your lawyer to learn more about the strategy that is most sensible for you. 

Call a Family Law Attorney Today

If you have questions about appealing a custody decision in Massachusetts, time is ticking—remember, you only have 30 days from the date of judgment to file your appeal. As such, it’s critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to start working on your case today.

Attorney Heather M. Ward knows how time-sensitive your case is and is here to help. Call (617) 903-8955 today or schedule a consultation online to get started.