In previous posts, we've mentioned several important reasons to work with an experienced family law attorney in child custody proceedings.
These reasons include: ensuring the court has accurate information about both parents; conveying a parent's child custody preferences and motivations in a favorable way; and ensuring the court has the perspective necessary to appropriately weigh each factor in the case. In this post, we'll look at another reason to work with a skilled attorney: ensuring the court doesn't abuse its discretion.
4. Preserve issues that may later need to be appealed
Ordinarily, most of the issues couples dispute in child custody cases are resolved either outside court or at trial. These decisions are not always satisfactory to both parents, but there isn't much that can be done about it from a legal perspective until there are grounds for modifying the custody order at a later time.
In some cases, though, there are child custody issues that are not adequately resolved at the trial level. This doesn't refer to an outcome that is unsatisfactory to a parent, or to both parents, but to situations where the trial court judge abused his or her discretion. When a judge has abused his or her discretion in a child custody determination, a parent may have the ability to appeal to a higher court on that issue. In order to appeal an issue decided at the trial level, though, the issue must be adequately preserved on the record at trial. A skilled family law attorney will ensure everything is done to preserve a parent's right to appeal.
Filing an appeal in a child custody case is not always a desirable option to exercise, but parents should carefully weigh that decision in consultation with experienced legal counsel. An experienced attorney will not only recognize when an issue may need to be appealed later on, but will do what needs to be done at the trial level to ensure the issue is preserved on record to support a later appeal, if the parent chooses to go down that road.