Appeals: What, When, Where and Why

So you’ve been to trial. You’ve received an order from the trial judge directing you to do (or perhaps not do) something. In the family-law context, the trial judge may have decided issues relating to custody, relocation, parenting time, child support, or marital property—just to name a few. What if you’re not happy with the result? What happens next?

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In most circumstances, you have the option to appeal. If you choose to appeal, you must do so within thirty days. Appeals are handled by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which is based in downtown Indianapolis at the Statehouse. The Court of Appeals is comprised of 15 judges and they work in panels of three at a time.

Appeals are much different from trial-court cases. When you ask the Court of Appeals to review what the trial court has done, you do so by submitting written arguments. These written arguments are called “briefs,” and they are filled with legal argument and relevant legal authority. Occasionally, the Court of Appeals will hold oral argument in appeals with unique, complicated, or interesting facts; however, typically the Court rules on a party’s appeal by issuing a written decision, called an “opinion,” within a few weeks to a few months. If an appellate party is not happy with the opinion issued by the Court of Appeals, they may consider a petition to transfer, which is a request that the Indiana Supreme Court consider the appeal. Unlike the Court of Appeals, which hears all appeals, the Supreme Court has the option to select what cases it will hear.

The rules that govern the appellate process are complex and can be tricky to navigate. If you are considering an appeal, you should consult an attorney with appellate experience. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer routinely handle appellate cases and are available to discuss this process with you at any time. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

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