Family Law Appeals Attorney in Jacksonville

Roth Law Handles Family Law Appeals

Appeals in Florida are completely different from what you might have experienced in the trial court. In a way, appeals have a different purpose. Of course, your purpose is always to win, and ours is always to give you the best chances to do so. But appeals achieve that with a completely different philosophy. Appellate law involves a new kind of process for someone who just experienced a trial.

At Roth Law Firm, we have developed the skills, nurtured the inclination, and accumulated the experience to best represent you in your family law appeal. We sharpen those skills every day. We are dedicated to our understanding of the law, to an obsessive research of the legal questions raised in your appeal, and to the art of persuasive writing to present your arguments to three judges’ inquisitive minds.

Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation
904-595-7900

The Roth Law Firm can handle family law appeals on any of the nearly infinite issues that can arise in family court, including in the areas of:

  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Custody / Time Sharing
  • Relocation
  • Modifications
  • Paternity
  • Adoptions
  • Abandonment
  • Visitation

  • We represent clients on appeals from family court in front of all five district courts of appeal, depending on where the trial took place.

  • The First District, which is based in Tallahassee, hears appeals from cases originating in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington Counties.
  • The Second District with offices in Lakeland and Tampa covers five judicial circuits comprising Pasco, Pinellas Hardee, Highlands, Polk, DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Glades, Collier, Hendry, and Lee Counties.
  • The Third District in Miami hears appeals from Dade and Monroe Counties.
  • The Fourth District works form West Palm Beach and covers Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties.
  • The Fifth District in Daytona hears appeals from cases that started in Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Brevard, and Seminole Counties.

  • We also represent our clients before the Florida Supreme Court whenever it may be called for. The Supreme Court will hear cases that involve constitutional issues and others where the various District Courts disagreed on a question of law. When confronted with those questions, we will take your case as far as it needs to go.

    Before the Trial Court

    If you are looking at an appeal, you have just gone through the long and laborious process that lead to a trial in the Family Court. You probably know more about it than you ever wanted to.

    That process had a singular purpose. It aimed to develop the facts that would enable the Family Court Judge to rule. You went through discovery, developed evidence, fought about what could or could not be admitted. There were depositions and documents galore.

    When all that was done, the trial involved live testimony. It wasn’t quite “Law & Order” but the process may have looked familiar. Each witness was examined then cross-examined by the attorneys. Evidence was presented. At the end, the judge made a ruling, though that may have come in writing and quite some time after trial depending on the circumstances.


    The Appeal

    The Nature of an Appeal

    An appeal is different. It is started by the person against whom the trial court ruled. That party is now known as the appellant. The party who prevailed in Family Court will respond and is called the appellee.

    There will be no new evidence, no testimony taken in court, no new document or physical evidence produced. The sole purpose of the Appellate Court is to determine whether or not the Trial Court committed an error of law. The facts are already established.

    What is important to notice here is that we talk about errors of law. The facts are already established. And it is not an error of law for the trial judge to have believed one side over the other.

    The Process

    The Appellate Process has its own intricacies but is fairly linear as well. You can divide it into five steps.

    The first step is to gather the record—all those documents, transcripts, and papers accumulated during the proceedings before the Trial Court. Nothing may be added, but (nearly) everything that came in will be available for review by the Appellate Court.

    The second step is for the appellant to write their first brief, called the initial brief. There are very strict rules governing how briefs are written. It is a job best left to appellate experts. That initial brief will explain what happened below, lay out the facts that were established by the documents and testimonies, and then argue what legal mistake or mistakes the Court committed.

    The next step is for the appellee to write their brief, called the answer brief. It is similarly formatted and the argument will be focused on why the Court was right and the appellant is wrong.

    Step four, the last brief, known as the reply brief, is again written by the appellant and is limited to addressing new issues raised by the answer. It is not an opportunity to rehash what was said in the initial brief.

    The last step is the oral argument. Again in a departure from what happened before the Trial Court, time actually in court in an appeal is extremely short. All that has taken place so far happened in writing. Oral argument may, in fact, not take place at all. If it does, each side will have twenty minutes in front of a panel of three appellate judges to answer their questions and explain one last time why the arguments they made in their respective briefs should carry the day.

    The Skill Set

    As is hopefully evident from all this, the skill set to win an appeal is different from the one to win at trial. We are now talking to three judges with legal training and a vast experience in the law, not to a jury. And we are doing so nearly entirely in writing.

    The skills we bring to bear are a deep knowledge of the law, an ability and disposition to research the legal questions down every possible avenue, and a passion for clear and persuasive writing. These are the skills we hone every day to best represent you in your appeal.

    Family Law Appeals Specifically

    Compared to other areas of law, appeals from rulings in family law are harder on appellants and gentler on appellees. That is because the standards in family law give the trial judge a lot of discretion. It would be a disservice to pretend otherwise.

    Nevertheless, family law appeals go both ways. A recent one ended in reversal, when a busy judge forgot to take into account how one ex-spouse’s changes in circumstances affected their ability to pay alimony, or how the other’s need for alimony may have changed. The trial court was required to consider both under applicable law.

    Questions addressed on appeal from family law rulings cover a myriad of legal issues. The examples below do not begin to cover them all, but illustrate the kinds of topics we encounter.

    Child Support.

    Florida uses a set formula to calculate child support based, among other factors, on each side’s income. But even that leaves questions for the appellate bench. For example, what constitutes income? Can a company’s profits count toward the business owner’s income child support purposes? What about the amount withheld for Social Security from an employee’s paycheck? Questions arise about other factors too, such as the time the children spend with each parent. For example, a court cannot make up the number of nights children spend at each home when the evidence dictates a different number. This can sometimes come up for service members with limited leave.

    Alimony.

    Before a court can award alimony, it must find facts justifying it. A common issue on appeal is whether the Court actually made those findings. Another is whether the findings were sufficiently specific. They must show one’s ability to pay and the other’s actual need, perhaps based on the inability to work, at least for a time.

    Modification.

    One of the most often appealed issue concerns orders changing either custody, child support, or alimony after the initial trial (sometimes long afterwards). Those are called modification orders. They are based on changes in circumstances on either side.

    Whether a change warrants a modification order is an issue that often reaches the appellate bench.

    Custody.

    Parents who had to fight over time with their children might see various legal decisions questioned on appeal. Was the Court right to order (or deny) a party’s psychological evaluation? Did the court consider all relevant factors—or, on the flip side, did it refrain from relying on impermissible factors? A court may not, for instance, favor either parent based on the age of the children.

    Paternity.

    In the age of DNA, paternity may seem beyond dispute. But Courts still wrestle with certain aspects of paternity litigation, leaving appellate courts to rule on the legality of decisions by the Trial Judge. For example, was there sufficient cause to order genetic testing against someone’s objection? Was paternity even put in question? Was the question timely brought to the Court’s attention?

    Abandonment.

    A child may be abandoned financially or emotionally. Since abandonment must be willful, questions of a parent’s ability to visit or support will often percolate to the appellate bench. How much will telephone or email communication matter? What about ability to work? How long is too long between visits? A family court departing too much from established precedent may give cause for an appeal.

    Evidence.

    In family law as in every other area of law, questions of law arise about the admission of evidence. This includes both documentary evidence and the decision to hear testimony in response to a given question over the other side’s objection. Was the evidence relevant? Was it prejudicial? Was the evidence proven authentic? Was there proper foundation for its admission? Was the question a topic for expert or lay testimony?

    We Are Ready to Help You

    At the Roth Law Firm, we have made appeals a focus of our constant dedication. Whatever the issue coming out of your family-law case, whether you recognized it in our few examples or not, give us a call so we can help you understand what your appeal will entail and handle it from start to finish.

    Roth Law Handles Family Law Appeals

    Appeals in Florida are completely different from what you might have experienced in the trial court. In a way, appeals have a different purpose. Of course, your purpose is always to win, and ours is always to give you the best chances to do so. But appeals achieve that with a completely different philosophy. Appellate law involves a new kind of process for someone who just experienced a trial.

    At Roth Law Firm, we have developed the skills, nurtured the inclination, and accumulated the experience to best represent you in your family law appeal. We sharpen those skills every day. We are dedicated to our understanding of the law, to an obsessive research of the legal questions raised in your appeal, and to the art of persuasive writing to present your arguments to three judges’ inquisitive minds.

    Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation
    904-595-7900

    The Roth Law Firm can handle family law appeals on any of the nearly infinite issues that can arise in family court, including in the areas of:

  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Custody / Time Sharing
  • Relocation
  • Modifications
  • Paternity
  • Adoptions
  • Abandonment
  • Visitation

  • We represent clients on appeals from family court in front of all five district courts of appeal, depending on where the trial took place.

  • The First District, which is based in Tallahassee, hears appeals from cases originating in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington Counties.
  • The Second District with offices in Lakeland and Tampa covers five judicial circuits comprising Pasco, Pinellas Hardee, Highlands, Polk, DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Glades, Collier, Hendry, and Lee Counties.
  • The Third District in Miami hears appeals from Dade and Monroe Counties.
  • The Fourth District works form West Palm Beach and covers Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties.
  • The Fifth District in Daytona hears appeals from cases that started in Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Brevard, and Seminole Counties.

  • We also represent our clients before the Florida Supreme Court whenever it may be called for. The Supreme Court will hear cases that involve constitutional issues and others where the various District Courts disagreed on a question of law. When confronted with those questions, we will take your case as far as it needs to go.

    Before the Trial Court

    If you are looking at an appeal, you have just gone through the long and laborious process that lead to a trial in the Family Court. You probably know more about it than you ever wanted to.

    That process had a singular purpose. It aimed to develop the facts that would enable the Family Court Judge to rule. You went through discovery, developed evidence, fought about what could or could not be admitted. There were depositions and documents galore.

    When all that was done, the trial involved live testimony. It wasn’t quite “Law & Order” but the process may have looked familiar. Each witness was examined then cross-examined by the attorneys. Evidence was presented. At the end, the judge made a ruling, though that may have come in writing and quite some time after trial depending on the circumstances.


    The Appeal

    The Nature of an Appeal

    An appeal is different. It is started by the person against whom the trial court ruled. That party is now known as the appellant. The party who prevailed in Family Court will respond and is called the appellee.

    There will be no new evidence, no testimony taken in court, no new document or physical evidence produced. The sole purpose of the Appellate Court is to determine whether or not the Trial Court committed an error of law. The facts are already established.

    What is important to notice here is that we talk about errors of law. The facts are already established. And it is not an error of law for the trial judge to have believed one side over the other.

    The Process

    The Appellate Process has its own intricacies but is fairly linear as well. You can divide it into five steps.

    The first step is to gather the record—all those documents, transcripts, and papers accumulated during the proceedings before the Trial Court. Nothing may be added, but (nearly) everything that came in will be available for review by the Appellate Court.

    The second step is for the appellant to write their first brief, called the initial brief. There are very strict rules governing how briefs are written. It is a job best left to appellate experts. That initial brief will explain what happened below, lay out the facts that were established by the documents and testimonies, and then argue what legal mistake or mistakes the Court committed.

    The next step is for the appellee to write their brief, called the answer brief. It is similarly formatted and the argument will be focused on why the Court was right and the appellant is wrong.

    Step four, the last brief, known as the reply brief, is again written by the appellant and is limited to addressing new issues raised by the answer. It is not an opportunity to rehash what was said in the initial brief.

    The last step is the oral argument. Again in a departure from what happened before the Trial Court, time actually in court in an appeal is extremely short. All that has taken place so far happened in writing. Oral argument may, in fact, not take place at all. If it does, each side will have twenty minutes in front of a panel of three appellate judges to answer their questions and explain one last time why the arguments they made in their respective briefs should carry the day.

    The Skill Set

    As is hopefully evident from all this, the skill set to win an appeal is different from the one to win at trial. We are now talking to three judges with legal training and a vast experience in the law, not to a jury. And we are doing so nearly entirely in writing.

    The skills we bring to bear are a deep knowledge of the law, an ability and disposition to research the legal questions down every possible avenue, and a passion for clear and persuasive writing. These are the skills we hone every day to best represent you in your appeal.

    Family Law Appeals Specifically

    Compared to other areas of law, appeals from rulings in family law are harder on appellants and gentler on appellees. That is because the standards in family law give the trial judge a lot of discretion. It would be a disservice to pretend otherwise.

    Nevertheless, family law appeals go both ways. A recent one ended in reversal, when a busy judge forgot to take into account how one ex-spouse’s changes in circumstances affected their ability to pay alimony, or how the other’s need for alimony may have changed. The trial court was required to consider both under applicable law.

    Questions addressed on appeal from family law rulings cover a myriad of legal issues. The examples below do not begin to cover them all, but illustrate the kinds of topics we encounter.

    Child Support.

    Florida uses a set formula to calculate child support based, among other factors, on each side’s income. But even that leaves questions for the appellate bench. For example, what constitutes income? Can a company’s profits count toward the business owner’s income child support purposes? What about the amount withheld for Social Security from an employee’s paycheck? Questions arise about other factors too, such as the time the children spend with each parent. For example, a court cannot make up the number of nights children spend at each home when the evidence dictates a different number. This can sometimes come up for service members with limited leave.

    Alimony.

    Before a court can award alimony, it must find facts justifying it. A common issue on appeal is whether the Court actually made those findings. Another is whether the findings were sufficiently specific. They must show one’s ability to pay and the other’s actual need, perhaps based on the inability to work, at least for a time.

    Modification.

    One of the most often appealed issue concerns orders changing either custody, child support, or alimony after the initial trial (sometimes long afterwards). Those are called modification orders. They are based on changes in circumstances on either side.

    Whether a change warrants a modification order is an issue that often reaches the appellate bench.

    Custody.

    Parents who had to fight over time with their children might see various legal decisions questioned on appeal. Was the Court right to order (or deny) a party’s psychological evaluation? Did the court consider all relevant factors—or, on the flip side, did it refrain from relying on impermissible factors? A court may not, for instance, favor either parent based on the age of the children.

    Paternity.

    In the age of DNA, paternity may seem beyond dispute. But Courts still wrestle with certain aspects of paternity litigation, leaving appellate courts to rule on the legality of decisions by the Trial Judge. For example, was there sufficient cause to order genetic testing against someone’s objection? Was paternity even put in question? Was the question timely brought to the Court’s attention?

    Abandonment.

    A child may be abandoned financially or emotionally. Since abandonment must be willful, questions of a parent’s ability to visit or support will often percolate to the appellate bench. How much will telephone or email communication matter? What about ability to work? How long is too long between visits? A family court departing too much from established precedent may give cause for an appeal.

    Evidence.

    In family law as in every other area of law, questions of law arise about the admission of evidence. This includes both documentary evidence and the decision to hear testimony in response to a given question over the other side’s objection. Was the evidence relevant? Was it prejudicial? Was the evidence proven authentic? Was there proper foundation for its admission? Was the question a topic for expert or lay testimony?

    We Are Ready to Help You

    At the Roth Law Firm, we have made appeals a focus of our constant dedication. Whatever the issue coming out of your family-law case, whether you recognized it in our few examples or not, give us a call so we can help you understand what your appeal will entail and handle it from start to finish.


    Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

    904-595-7900


    Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

    904-595-7900