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How child custody appeals are conducted

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Trial courts in Georgia sometimes make mistakes in a decision. These mistakes occur in child custody hearings as in other types of cases. For these instances, the Georgia court system has a remedy for review of a bad decision.

An appeal is a method of requesting a higher court to review the decision of the trial court and, if warranted, to reverse the trial court decision. If the case is appealed, the appellate court will review the evidence and arguments presented at trial and will have a number of options. It may affirm the judgment of the trial court, overturn the initial ruling or return the case to the trial court for further hearing.

Parents wishing to appeal a child custody decision should familiarize themselves with the rules of the appellate courts. There are strict rules of procedure and time limits for submitting documents. If pleadings are not filed on time, the appeal may be dismissed. But even before an appeal is filed, the parent must be sure the decision is ready for appeal. Normally, only final decisions of the trial court can be appealed. The court must have made a final decision on the matter.

No new evidence is normally permitted in an appeal. The appellate court will base its ruling on trial court evidence, the legal briefs of the parties and oral arguments presented. Hearing testimony must be transcribed. Briefs are the comprehensive arguments of why the trial court erred in its decision; it contains the facts of the case and citations of legal precedent.

Those with a sincere belief that the trial court erred may consider the assistance of legal counsel. An attorney experienced in family law may provide advice on the likelihood of success and perform the details required by appellate court procedures.

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