Appeals and Motions for Reconsiderations in Arizona

Appeals and Motions for Reconsiderations

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Appeals and Motions for Reconsiderations

There’s an old adage that says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” The same is true about hiring a good attorney. The best time to hire one was in the beginning. The second best time is now. This is especially true if your case already went to trial and you received a ruling with case altering inaccuracies, factual errors, or improperly applied legal standards

If you have received a ruling or order after your final trial, that was just flat out wrong, we can help you determine if you have any remedies. Appealing for a decision to be overturned or reconsidered is an uphill battle. They are often complicated and fact intensive. The good news is, with the right strategy, there is a chance that it can be fixed.

You may be desperate to file something, anything, to fix the current orders. But you need to be careful that you do not make the situation worse. If you file something that is procedurally incorrect, it can end any chance you have of changing the ruling. This area of law has strict deadlines and lengthy legal procedures, and it can be difficult to navigate without experience. We will review the facts with you, explain your options, and be open about your chance of success. We promise that whether good or bad, we will give you our honest assessment.

How it works

The Appeals Process

1. Deciding to Appeal

Anyone who receives a disappointing ruling wants to appeal it, but there’s a difference between wanting to appeal the ruling and having legal grounds to appeal it. The standards for an appeal are difficult because you are essentially putting the judge in your case on trial, and it is your burden to show the judge made a mistake.

Typically, that is not something a non-attorney can accurately assess on their own, and, honestly, it isn’t easy for an attorney either. Any good appellate attorney will need to dive into the facts of your case before they can say whether you have grounds. But before you spend considerable time, money, and energy on an appeal, you should know what your chances are going to be. That is going to require an open and honest consultation with an attorney.

Questions to Ask before Considering an Appeal

  • What did the judge get wrong?
  • What are the chances of success?
  • If I have a ruling that can be modified, am I better off waiting and not appealing?
  • What is the timeline for an appeal?
  • Does what’s at stake justify the cost of an appeal?

2. Starting the Appeal

You must file three documents to get the appeal process started:

    1. The Notice of Appeal, which starts the appeal, must be filed in the Superior Court.
    2. A transcript of the of the trial (most family court proceedings in the state are not transcribed). You will need to hire a licensed transcriptionist service to transcribe the recording of your trial and any other hearings germane to your appeal.
    3. A Case Management Statement, which is a filing that is mostly administrative.

3. Making Your Case

The Appellate Briefs must be filed next. These can be lengthy documents (up to 14,000 words for the Opening and Answering Briefs, and up to 7,000 words for the Reply Brief). On an appeal, you are not holding a second trial; rather, through the Briefs, you are trying to convince the Court of Appeals that the judge made a mistake that requires the ruling to be set aside. The Opening Brief is the crucial document in the appeal. This is where you will make all your arguments as to why the trial court (the judge who made the ruling in the Superior Court) erred in making its ruling.

In the Answering Brief, your opponent will then have their chance to respond and explain why the trial court got it right. The person appealing will then have a chance to file a Reply Brief. The Reply Brief is limited to responding to those arguments raised in the Answering Brief.

An oral argument is an optional last step (unless the Court of Appeals choose to set one), but either party can request an oral argument. During an oral argument, each side has 20 minutes to present their arguments to the three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals. The judges can (and do) interrupt to ask questions.

4. Ruling and Options

After the matter has been briefed and the oral argument is held, then the matter is ready for the Court of Appeals to rule. Waiting for this ruling can take up to six months.

After the appeal is decided, a party may ask the Arizona Supreme Court to review the appellate ruling by filing a Petition for Review. The other party will have a chance to respond. The Supreme Court will then decide whether to hear the case—but they are not required to hear it.

Once the matter is finished in the appellate courts, the Court of Appeals will issue a mandate to the trial court, returning jurisdiction to that Court. If the Court of Appeals has overturned the trial court’s ruling, it may provide the trial court with instructions on what to do next.

Have Questions? We have answers

Appeals and Motions in Arizona FAQs

I received a bad family law ruling, what are my options?

You can motion the court to alter or amend its ruling, clarify its ruling, and reconsider its ruling. You can also appeal the decision. But, the clock is ticking on those options. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to learn about your options and to determine the likelihood of success.

Is appealing the judge’s ruling my only option?

No. An appeal is not your only option. And most likely, it is not even your best option. Typically, you should attempt to remedy the situation by filing a post-trial motion before pursuing an appeal.

How can I win my family law appeal?

Finding the right attorney will give you the best chance to win your family appeal. You need an attorney who has appellate experience. Appeals are one of the most complex procedures of the court system, and it is imperative to have an experienced attorney to help you with your appeal.

How long do I have to file a family law appeal?

You have 30 days from when the ruling becomes final. A ruling becomes final when no more issues are pending before the Court. But, some rulings may become appealable (regardless of whether other issues are pending) if the Court certifies its ruling under Rule 78(b). Certain post-trial motions, such as a Motion to Alter or Amend, can extend the deadline.

How do I appeal a family law ruling?

You file a Notice of Appeal in your existing case in the Superior Court. The Superior Court will then notify the Court of Appeals. You will also be responsible for getting a transcript of the trial (and any other hearings you want the Court to consider) transcribed and filed with the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals will notify when your Case Management Statement and Opening Brief are due.

How long does an appeal process take?

Typically, an appeal takes anywhere from nine to fifteen months to receive a decision.

If I am ordered to pay child support or spousal maintenance, and I appeal the ruling, do I have to pay child support or spousal maintenance while the appeal is pending?

Yes. Child support and spousal maintenance do not get suspended because of an appeal. You have an ongoing obligation to pay those amounts. If the appeal changes the order, you will receive a credit for any amount you overpaid.

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