This is the next post in a series of articles discussing child custody appeals in Las Vegas, Nevada. The previous post reviewed the types of issues that can be appealed after a child custody trial. Not every case is appealable. The appellate court’s authority to review a decision is limited to specific legal issues, such as misapplication of the facts presented or evidentiary concerns at the trial level. An experienced child custody attorney can assist you in determining whether your case can be appealed. In this article, I will review what parents can expect during the appeals process. If you need assistance with a custody appeal, contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.
A party wishing to appeal the trial court’s ruling must file a Notice of Appeal within thirty days after the final judgment is issued. Missing this deadline may preclude one’s ability to challenge the trial court’s decision. Filing the Notice of Appeal in a custody ruling triggers Nevada’s “Fast Track” custody appeals process. Given the sensitivity of issues related to custody disputes, this process expedites the appeals process, requiring attorneys to file briefs with the appellate court within ninety days. Parents will be required to participate in mandatory mediation prior to the briefing deadline to attempt to settle any outstanding disagreements. If the mediation does not result in a settlement, each party’s attorney will submit a written brief along with a transcript of the trial proceedings to the Court of Appeals. Unlike the trial, parties will not be asked to testify during the appeal. In rare cases, the appeals court may require the attorneys to present oral arguments to the judges. More commonly, however, the Court of Appeals issues its decision based solely on the briefs.
In many cases, a Notice of Appeal is accompanied by a request for a “stay of enforcement” of the trial court’s ruling. A stay of the proceeding effectively puts the trial court’s order on hold while the appeal is pending. Particularly in child custody matters, judges may be reluctant to enforce an order that may be reversed on appeal to avoid unnecessary disruption of the child’s living arrangements, school attendance, etc. For example, suppose a trial court grants sole custody to the child’s father, but the child has always attended the school in his mother’s jurisdiction. Mom decides to appeal the ruling and seeks a stay of enforcement, requesting the previous order remain in effect pending her appeal. Depending upon the other facts and circumstances surrounding the court’s ruling, the stay may be granted to avoid the child possibly changing schools twice.
Because the appeals process can be lengthy, it is important to be very clear about the care and custody of the child while the appeal is pending. If a stay is granted, the child’s care and custody will be governed by the order that was in place prior to the trial. If a stay is not requested or not granted, the trial court’s order will apply pending the outcome of the appeal. Complying with the applicable custody ruling during an ongoing appeal process is a legal requirement. Failing to do so could result in contempt of court charges and may have negative consequences in future legal proceedings. It is imperative, therefore, to understand how a stay impacts your current situation.
If you need assistance with a child custody matter, contact my office to speak to a Las Vegas family law attorney. My office is dedicated to providing the highest level of customer service to our clients. Contact us today.