Toronto Appellate Lawyer Helping Clients Looking to Appeal a Family Court Decision
When a family court judge makes a decision that ends up being less than satisfactory for either side of a family law dispute, the next step to consider is filing an appeal. Our law firm has assisted many clients who were intending to file an appeal as well as those responding to one. If you are in a similar situation, there are a few important things you need to know.
How Do I Appeal a Family Court Order in Toronto?
Most family court decisions can be appealed in Ontario, but the process for filing an appeal may be slightly different, depending on whether the decision you are appealing is final or temporary. If your decision is considered temporary, a panel of three judges will discuss whether to allow you to appeal the decision or not. If you are appealing a final decision, you may be able to file your appeal with a higher court without needing to go through a panel.
You can start the appeal process by drafting a document called a “notice of appeal”, letting the other party know you disagree with the decision and listing the general grounds explaining why you believe the original judge made a mistake on your case. When you work with an appellate lawyer, he or she can assist you with this step, as well as with recommending which level of court you should appeal to first.
What Are Some Valid Reasons to File a Family Court Appeal?
You may not file an appeal with a family court simply because you dislike the judge’s decision — there must be a valid reason for doing so, referred to as grounds. Most often, an appeal is made because the appellant (the person filing the appeal) has reasons to believe that the court made a mistake. That mistake can be about how certain facts were used in a case (as when a court misunderstands the facts or places too much importance on certain minor facts) or about how the law was misunderstood or incorrectly applied to the case.
If you do decide to move forward with the appeal, the court may take different actions in response to your request. They may decide to reverse the decision, meaning they will establish that the family court decision was wrong and thus will be vacated (canceled). They may ask the family court to hear your case again (remand) or they may affirm the family court judge’s decision, meaning they agree with it and will not change anything. They may also decide to modify the decision, i.e., make partial changes to it.
What Should I Do After Filing a Notice of Appeal?
Before you file a notice of appeal, you need to make sure the deadline to file it has not expired. In Ontario, that deadline is usually 30 days from the date you received your decision. You will then have a chance to do what is referred to as perfecting your appeal. This may include preparing a full record of your case and a detailed written explanation for the reasons behind your appeal.
This is also when you may need to gather any transcripts of oral evidence or any other supporting documents that can strengthen your case. Making a mistake here may mean your appeal may be quickly dismissed, so working with a skilled appellate lawyer is highly recommended to increase your chances of success.
How Can a Family Court Appellate Lawyer Assist Me?
At Financial Litigation, our legal team assists clients with a variety of matters concerning family law appeals. We can assist you during any stage of your appeal, whether you are still in the planning phase or are ready to perfect your appeal. We can also provide advice for clients who are respondents to an appeal or simply are unsure about how to proceed. Self-representing during an appeal process is possible but chances of success are slim to none. When so much is at stake, it is best not to fight it alone. Contact our Toronto office at 416-769-4107 to see how we can help.