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Child Custody Appeals

“What is a child-custody appeal? Does it include paternity? Divorce? Child custody determinations and modifications? Child support? De facto custodians? Grandparent visitation? Adoption? Relocation? Parenting time? What types of cases win? How can I help my appellate attorney?”

The child custody appellate attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., literally field these questions daily. Domestic Relations encompasses a vast area of law which constitutes one-half of all civil lawsuits pending at any one time in Indiana, with a vast majority of cases involving children. These legal cases create additional emotional turmoil and uncertainty where a party has lost and is now appealing. Domestic cases are legally unique and complex and take experienced counsel to litigate and properly appeal because most all other civil cases have a clear legal remedy in the trial court or on appeal: the payment of money. If you are injured in a car accident and have a personal injury case, the legal remedy for harm to your person and damage to your car is understood to be the payment of money, although that may not be the remedy you seek such as if you lost vision. However, economists’ value this and money is what you get.

This is not the case where a child is the subject of the litigation and appeal and every party (mother, father, or de facto) wants custody and/or the maximum amount of parenting time with the children. These cases take skilled appellate attorneys with significant domestic practice experience to properly litigate in the Court of Appeals of Indiana. This experience allows for proper assessment of the issues and deciding what to appeal and what relief to seek is critical.

So, you might be asking what types of cases are these? Is this my case? Cases that generate significant domestic appeals, particularly where children are in dispute, include the following:

Assuming you have a domestic appeal involving a child, as domestic advocates and appellate attorneys, we never lose sight of the legal and emotional interplay in these cases. If this is your case, there are a number of ways to help your child custody appellate attorney handling your case and at the same time, help yourself. What is it? Teamwork.

Most mothers, fathers, or third parties involved in child custody litigation are on appeal because they were not awarded physical and/or legal custody or sufficient parenting time they sought at trial. The failed trial court case and appeal enhance the sense of loss of control, sadness, helplessness and hopeless, and other feelings that just won’t go away. However, a helpful way to defer some of these thoughts is to help your appellate counsel learn your case.

Specifically, put your time and energy into thoughts and efforts that may help your appellate attorney win you a reversal on appeal. As seasoned appellate advocates, we are only able to be as effective as our understanding of the case. So just what can you do instead of worry? In the majority of custody appeals, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. custody attorneys find the following client-prepared materials of great aid as they try to assimilate facts and understand the circumstances that are the foundation of the appeal:

  • A list of the names, addresses, telephone number for all key participants in the case to date, these may include doctors, psychologists, neighbors, relatives, prior attorneys, CASAs, judges, or others whose information will appear anywhere in the trial court record. With this, a description of their involvement in the case is important.
  • A timeline of the relationship: how the parties are involved with the child(ren), since when, where has the child(ren) resided and for what time frames.
  • A list of any errors or shortfalls that are apparent to be considered on appeal from being at your trial and/or the comments of your trial counsel.

If we do not fully understand your case, we cannot tell your story. With all of these materials gathered, our child custody appeal approach is the attorney and client work hand in hand to determine the most viable legal issues relative to the relief or remedy sought by the appeal. This will also assist us in determining if there were errors in the application of the law. These are much stronger cases for reversal on appeal. In addition, we may want you to facilitate a conference call with your trial counsel to see if he or she has insights into viable appellate issues. Appellant’s Brief on Child Custody. Published Opinion on Appellant’s Brief on Child Custody.

All in all, with this approach, you worry less and when you read your brief, you should feel like your story has been told, giving you confidence in your Appellant’s Brief filed on your behalf in the Court of Appeals of Indiana seeking reversal. Lawyers are storytellers, and if you tell your story on appeal based on the record, this gives you the best chance at prevailing on appeal; and if you do not, you know you did all you could for your children.

This is Ciyou & Dixon, P.C.’s approach to domestic child custody appeals. If this makes sense to you and is consistent with your expectations for your domestic child custody appellate counsel, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. child custody attorneys may be your counsel.

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