Family is important. Going through a family court case can be stressful and confusing. The situation is made all the worse if you get a negative outcome. Unfavorable family court verdicts can be appealed in Washington State. You may be wondering: What are my chances of winning on appeal in a family court case in Washington? The somewhat satisfying answer is that “it depends”—the strength of your appeal will determine your odds. Here, our Washington family law appeals attorney provides a more detailed overview of the key things that you need to know about your chances of winning an appeal in family court in Washington State.
The Chances of Winning on Appeal: Know the Data
What percentage of appeals are successful overall? Unfortunately, the hard date on this issue is somewhat limited. That being said, the United States Courts cites a comprehensive analysis of more than 50,000 appeals over a five-year period that found that between 5% and 24% of appeals were successful—depending on both the type of appeal and the year. For reference, during this period, approximately 5% of civil appeals were successful.
Your Odds of Prevailing on Appeal Depend on the Strength of Your Case
The broad data can only provide so much guidance on your chances of winning an appeal in a family court case in Washington State. The reality is that some parties file appeals that have very little chance of prevailing. In other cases, parties have a strong and well-supported reason to challenge a family court’s decision. Your odds of prevailing in a family law appeal depend on the facts of the case and the ruling of the court. You should seek professional guidance and support.
A Washington Family Appeals Lawyer Will Help Consider All Grounds for Appeal
A family appeal is not a new trial. It is not a re-trial. If you are filing an appeal simply because you “disagree with the decision” or you “do not like the verdict”, your chances of prevailing in the appellate court are going to be very low. You must identify and raise specific grounds for appeal. An experienced Washington family appeals attorney can review your case and the trial record and determine all possible grounds for appeal. Examples include:
- Abuse of Judicial Discretion: The court may have abused judicial discretion in an improper manner, potentially by allowing (or disallowing) some type of key evidence into the record.
- Misapplication of Law: Appellate courts are focused on the application of the law. If a family court misapplied the law to your case, that can be appealed.
- Material Legal Error: If a family court in Washington made a serious material legal error, you can challenge that on appeal.
Of course, your odds of winning an appeal also depend on your ability to bring a strong and well-supported case. In Washington State, appeals are primarily heard on “paper”—meaning your appellate brief is critically important. An appellate brief should be professionally drafted. It is your chance to make your case and raise all issues. To be clear, the appellate brief is not the place to introduce new evidence. Instead, it is your opportunity to convince the appellate court that the trial court made a mistake and/or misapplied the law. When evaluating whether to take an appeal, you should discuss your case with an experienced appellate attorney. As part of the process of reviewing your case, a Washington family appeals lawyer will help you understand your chances of success.
Preserve Your Chance to Win on Appeal: File a Notice of Appeal Before the Deadline Expires
If you do not appeal before the deadline expires, your chances of winning will drop to zero. Appellate law is subject to very strict deadlines in our state—and family appeals are no exception. The Washington Courts explain that there is a general 30-day deadline to file a Notice of Appeal—which is a document that preserves your right to appeal.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Washington State Family Appeals Attorney
At The Appellate Law Firm, our Washington family appellate lawyers are experienced and effective advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about how to prevail on appeal in a family court case, we are here to help. Give us a call now or contact us online to set up a strictly confidential initial consultation. From our Seattle office, we provide family law appellate representation throughout Washington, including in Tacoma, Bellevue, Spokane, and Vancouver.